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Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 13972


Mr THISTLETHWAITE (Kingsford Smith) (11:42): On behalf of my community, I present a petition signed by 87 members of the community calling on the Australian government to increase Australia's emission reduction commitment for the United Nations climate change conference in Paris. Next week, leaders of the world will gather in Paris to, hopefully, agree on a framework to reduce carbon emissions to, hopefully, reduce global warming and its effects on the global environment over the course of the years to come. They will also discuss a financing arrangement to ensure that developing nations are supported as they adapt to climate change.

Climate change is occurring and it is getting worse. Overnight, the World Meteorological Organization outlined that the average surface temperature in 2015 will be the hottest on record. The last five years will be the hottest five years since records of temperature were recorded. This is, of course, due to El Nino and human-induced global warming. Climate change is affecting the lives of people in our neighbourhood in a dramatic way already. In the Pacific, climate change is having an effect, particularly on low island states like Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. Wells are becoming salinised. Local infrastructure is becoming inundated by extreme weather events. Local crops that have been staple food for many communities for many years are being wiped out. On the weekend, I was very privileged to meet with Anote Tong, the President of Kiribati. He said something that shocked me, and that was that the people of Kiribati are coming to the conclusion that climate change for them is now irreversible and will ultimately result in their country no longer being inhabitable into the future. This is a big thing for a leader of a nation to admit, and the strategy of this government has now moved to what Anote Tong calls 'dignified migration'. They will be looking at how in future they will move populations from those countries.

Climate change is having a dramatic effect on our neighbourhood. Unless Australia takes serious climate action, our kids will have to pay for our mistakes and our economy will be weaker into the future. This message and the science have been ignored, unfortunately, by this Liberal government. They have removed policies that were actually reducing emissions in our economy. They got rid of the carbon price, which was driving down emissions, particularly from our energy sector, and replaced it with a policy charade. As a result, emissions from the electricity sector in Australia have now begun to increase again. In 2007, emissions from the electricity sector were 600 million tonnes. In 2013, as a result of Labor's carbon price, they had fallen to 548 million tonnes. Now the minister's own department, the Department of the Environment, project that emissions from the energy sector will increase to 656 million tonnes in 2020. They were going down under the carbon price; they are now going up again under this government. They have removed the cap on emissions that was actually a legal cap that would have reduced emissions over time.

We are the only developed nation in the world that has a policy of actively discouraging more renewable energy in our economy. That is exactly what this government has done by removing the renewable energy target. As a result, investment in renewable energy in 2014 fell by a whopping 88 per cent, and jobs were actually lost in that industry. This is a government that is trying to cut the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian renewable energy target.

When Malcolm Turnbull was elected as Prime Minister, there was some hope in Australia that we would finally get action on climate change from this Liberal government, but that hope was very short-lived. Instead, the new Prime Minister put Liberal politics ahead of a cleaner environment in our country. The new Prime Minister put his own personal ambitions ahead of the interests of our kids and their future, and that is unforgivable. Australians want real action on climate change; members of our community want real action on climate change—and this government has been a dismal failure. This government must take stronger targets and stronger actions to the Paris climate change talks for the sake of our neighbourhood and for the sake of our kids.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The document will be forwarded to the Petitions Committee for its consideration. It will be accepted subject to confirmation by the committee that it conforms with standing orders.