Climate Change and the 2019 election

Climate Change and the 2019 election

Last summer was Australia’s hottest on record. Last month more than one million children from more than 100 countries walked out of school to demand action for a safe climate future.

We have only until 2030, to cap a climate temperature rise (from the pre-industrial era) to 1.5C warns the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Beyond this, even half a degree would significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The 2018 IPCC report says urgent changes are needed to reach the target, which is affordable and feasible. The IPCC says this could be done without relying on geo-engineering, which could have negative consequences. The global climate is now around one degree hotter and the weather is already impacted by climate change.

Encouragingly millions of people around the world are working to meet this challenge. The Global Covenant of Mayors for a Climate and Energy represent more than 770 million residents.

What can be done? It’s clear what Christians should do. Jesus told us to love others and care for the poor. Working for a safe climate is love in action.

In Australia the May election is a good chance for us to influence action. With climate change being a big topic, there are a few frequently asked questions that are worth exploring as we prayerfully consider our vote.

Is Australia too small to make a difference?

No, we are the world’s largest coal exporter. A proposed coal mine by Adani in Queensland, which would include a rail link and port expansion would attract other coal mining companies. Scientists say that 90% of fossil fuels should stay in the ground for a safe climate according to the Climate Council.

How can the sun and wind provide all our energy when it’s not sunny or windy?

Scientists (including the award winning think tank Beyond Zero Emissions) have demonstrated how renewable energy can be sent to where needed via strengthened grids. Batteries, pumped hydro and solar thermal towers, such as being built in Port Augusta, can store solar energy to enable energy supply when needed.

Won’t major polluters like China prevent achieving a safe climate?

Scientists such as associate Professor Phillip Stalley, of DePaul University, Chicago are hopeful that despite recent fluctuations, China will meet its Paris target to cap carbon emissions by 2030.

China, lowered its carbon emissions by more than 55 percent between 1990 and 2015, but its drive for economic growth increased them in 2017 and 2018. Hopefully as China moves its economy from manufacturing to more consumption and services, it will require less energy.

Can we afford to change to renewable energy?

New renewable energy is now the same cost or cheaper than existing black coal power stations, according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance. However whatever the cost of transition it would be cheaper than the costs incurred from chaotic climate change, such as health risks from excessive heat and pollution as well as damaged infrastructure.

How can we influence our politicians for the May election?

This is a great opportunity to tell our politicians that we want emergency action on climate change. The most effective way to do this is to visit them. Tell our politicians not to allow Adani to build a coal mine in Queensland, which would lead others to be built.

We can also install solar panels, or pay for green energy via our electricity retailer. When possible use public transport rather than cars, cut meat and dairy eating and divest shares from fossil fuels companies.

Marguerite Marshall was trained by Al Gore as a Climate Reality Project leader and is a journalist. 

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