Home > Queensland Synod News > Government refuses to face the heat

Government refuses to face the heat

UnitingJustice National Director Rev Elenie Poulos

UnitingJustice Australia has today criticised as “woefully inadequate” the Australian Government’s target for a 5-15% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

“The Australian Government has failed to put forward a credible target for greenhouse gas reduction by 2020,” said Rev Elenie Poulos, UnitingJustice National Director.

“The Government’s refusal to face the heat of climate change is bitterly disappointing,” she said. “Australia is now one of the countries holding back the global agreement that we need in order to avoid dangerous climate change.

“Australia will suffer much greater impacts from climate change than other developed countries if quick and decisive global action is not taken. It is in our interests to lead by example,” Ms Poulos said.

“Professor Garnaut’s assessment, commissioned by the Government, clearly shows that without decisive action now, by 2100 agriculture in the Murray Darling Basin will have ended; snow-based tourism will be gone; the Great Barrier Reef will be destroyed; and an estimated 4,000 additional deaths due to heat waves will occur in Queensland.

“If a rich country like Australia is not willing to do its fair share then we cannot expect poorer developing countries to take up the slack. Australia needs to join with governments that are willing to play a leading role in international negotiations; we should be seeking to make a comparable effort.

“At an absolute minimum we should be willing to cut emissions by 25% by 2020 based on 1990 emission levels, and should go further if other countries are also willing to do their fair share. Today’s announcement now puts us well behind countries like the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden.

“As the Government itself acknowledges, it also makes economic sense to go harder earlier. The cost of achieving the Government’s target of a 60% reduction in emissions by 2050 will now be greater overall and will be pushed onto the next generation.”

The Uniting Church is also concerned that failing to achieve meaningful international agreement on climate change will result in suffering and hardship for countless people in developing countries. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that, without adequate action, large glaciers in the Himalayas will disappear, causing water shortages for hundreds of millions of people in China and India. People living in Bangladesh, island states in the Pacific and Papua New Guinea, and our brothers and sisters in the Torres Strait are among those already suffering.

“Whilst we welcome the fast-tracked $500 million Renewable Energy Fund, we are also deeply disappointed that the Federal Government keeps pandering to the coal industry, with the $500 million Clean Coal Fund,” said Ms Poulos.

“The Government should be investing in industries that will provide long-term sustainable solutions in a world that must tackle climate change or face irreversible damage, rather than throwing millions of taxpayer’s dollars to assist a $60 billion industry quite capable of looking after itself.

“It now has a long road ahead to prove to Australians that it’s serious about ensuring the future of our planet for our children and our grandchildren.”

Photo : UnitingJustice National Director Rev Elenie Poulos