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ALP conference acknowledges climate emergency and IPCC 1.5C report, but not the need to Stop Adani and phase out coal


Federal ALP conference has adopted a climate change motion that highlights the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C and that we are in a climate emergency. Labor MP for Batman (being renamed Cooper), Ged Kearney, moved the motion on climate change at the ALP national conference.

The contemporary challenge:

There is no longer any credible or serious scientific doubt that human-induced climate change represents a massive risk to Australia and the world. The recent IPCC report indicates that we are experiencing a climate emergency and, as a result, meaningful action on climate change is urgent, at home and internationally. Labor will take strong action on climate change to mitigate the risks and impacts of climate change on Australian society and economy, and to take advantage of the opportunities transitioning to a low pollution economy represent for workers, businesses and Australia more broadly.

The motion was carried, without a vote from the floor.

The motion had been beef up from the earlier draft:

“There is no longer any credible or serious scientific doubt that human-induced climate change represents a massive risk to Australia and the world. As a result, meaningful action on climate change is urgent, at home and internationally. Labor will take strong action on climate change to mitigate the risks and impacts of climate change on Australian society and economy, and to take advantage of the opportunities transitioning to a low pollution economy represent for workers, businesses and Australia more broadly.”

It may not seem like much, but the reference to the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C that illicited a huge debate at COP24, and that we are experiencing a climate emergency is a significant statement as part of Federal Labor Policy.

Ged Kearney has been an effective advocate for a stronger climate stance in the Federal ALP caucus since being elected, personally signing the climate emergency declaration, and making a speech to parliament on the climate emergency.

Bill Shorten’s speech on energy:

At the ALP conference Bill Shorten’s speech included lifting Australia’s emissions reduction targets and renewables by 2030, and growing a local lithium battery manufacturing industry.

We will cut pollution by 45% by 2030.

And today I announce that a Labor government will pass a new Environment Act and create a new commonwealth environmental protection authority to preserve our oceans, rivers, coasts and bushland and to protect the native species that call Australia home

And we will deliver furthermore 50% renewable energy by 2030.

We are going to unleash the potential of our renewable energy revolution.

It was only back in 2007, that a mere seven thousand homes in Australia had a solar panel on their roof, today it’s over 2 million households.

More and more families are taking back control of runaway power bills taking pressure off the energy grid and they have the chance, while individually taking up the fight against climate change – house by house, street by street.

I don’t believe that Australia should just be installing batteries alone – we should be making them.

We already produce every metal needed to make a lithium battery in this country.

We’ve got the mining industry, the scientists, the skilled workers, our people have the get-up and go – they just need the leadership.

This time, we’re going to get it right.

We’re not going to miss an opportunity to value-add in renewable energy in this country and in years to come, when people are installing battery storage systems. I want to see the mark of quality – worldwide – to be three famous words: Made in Australia.”

While a cut in emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 would put Australia on a deep decarbonisation path, the 50 percent renewables target by 2030 is far too low. Electricity generation is far easier to do than other sectors and it should be expected to do far more by 2030.

Decarbonising electricity generation will also assist in decarbonisation of ground transportation with the trend to electric vehicles. Aviation emissions will be very difficult to mitigate and are forecast to double over the next 20 years. Agriculture and stationary energy will also be more difficult to get emissions reductions of a similar scale in these sectors.

Don’t just believe me on Labor Energy Policy, ANU Professor Frank Jotzo analysed Labor’s energy and climate policy in early November and stated that Labor needs to do much more to tackle emissions reduction: “A national low-carbon strategy will need to look at how to get industry to shift to zero-emission electricity, how to convert road transport to electricity or hydrogen, and how to tackle the difficult question of agricultural emissions.”

The ALP conference also voted for a motion on new environmental laws. This is something which the Labor Environmental Action Network has been articulating and pushing strongly for.

Australia needs new frameworks for truly national protection and management of Australia’s natural resources to enshrine federal leadership in proactive and systemic protection of our environment from threats such as climate change, and to protect the value of heritage sites.

Labor will:

  • Establish an Australian Environment Act within the first term of government;
  • Ensure the knowledge and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are central in environment protection laws, programs and policies;
  • For the purposes of managing matters of national environmental significance, create strong, well resourced, science based institutions to administer the law: including a federal environmental protection agency to conduct public inquiries, provide transparent and timely advice to the minister within a clear decision-making framework and enforcement; and ensure there is the capacity in the public service to provide federal leadership on the environment;
  • Implement clear management, governance and decision making structures that are transparent, efficient and streamlined;
  • Improve regulation and streamline environmental assessment processes;
  • Manage Australia’s environment fairly and efficiently as a foundation for ecologically, socially and economically sustainable jobs;
  • Protect biodiversity and support resilience in the natural environment; and
  • Direct the Environment Department to establish national environment plans that set targets and approaches to proactively protect the environment

We know there is a Federal election within the next 6 months. Contentious issues at the ALP conference have been debated and settled behind closed doors to avoid appearances of disunity (A vital lesson that Labor has had to learn). This also applies to what to do about the Adani mine.

Bill Shorten and ALP official policy remains a policy of sitting of no subsidies to the mine and sitting on the fence about the private development of the Adani Carmichael coal mine. Labor are going into the election without a firm commitment on Adani, even though their recognition and adoption of the IPCC Special report on 1.5C and a climate emergency implies that no new coal mines should be allowed to be built.

Maybe they have a plan for dealing with the Adani issue after the election, but if this is so, it is not transparent policy. Perhaps they are planning to use new triggers in the new environmental laws they hope to pass. Will these be in place in time to stop the mine?

The climate movement needs to keep up the pressure on Labor to take the actions necessitated by their adopted lead policy on the climate emergency. That means no new fossil fuels, no new coal, no Adani mine.

Bill Shorten’s speech to the ALP convention disrupted

There were protests both within the ALP conference and outside it, about Adani and refugees.

Donna Smit held a stop Adani banner beside Bill Shorten as he walked up to the stage.

Twenty five year old Isaac Astill approached Bill Shorten onstage and said “Please stop Adani, There are bushfires across Queensland, heat records are tumbling, the Great Barrier Reef is heading towards its third bleaching event, you have to stop the Adani Coal mine!”

Bill asked if he could keep the flag and it was handed over.

(Hey Bill, perhaps you can put it up in your electorate office foyer in Moonee Ponds as a reminder of what you need to do.)

The Bureau of Meteorology recently released Special Climate Statement 67 (PDF) on an extreme heatwave on the tropical Queensland coast.

The Galilee Blockade issued a statement on this morning’s protest in Adelaide:

Two #StopAdani citizen activists disrupted Bill Shorten of the first morning of the ALP National Conference, appealing for him to show climate leadership and Stop Adani.

Donna Smit, 49, holding the #StopAdani banner behind Bill Shorten on entry, said: “I disrupted Bill Shorten because he refuses to pay attention to our climate emergency. Coal is fuelling climate change, resulting in deadly heat waves, bushfires, droughts and storms. We need Labor to take lead on climate change by committing to stop Adani’s coalmine now.

“Adani are determined to dig their coalmine but we’re more determined to stop it, before the federal election. Thousands of passionate people will be at every community event and press conference, making this the climate election that finally stops Adani’s disastrous mine.”

Isaac Astill, 25, who talked to Bill Shorten on stage and handed him a #StopAdani banner, said: “80% of Labor supporters believe new coal mines are no longer in the national interest. Yet Bill Shorten and the Labor party still support Adani’s mine, opening up one of the largest untapped coal reserves on Earth.

“Bill Shorten wants to be our next prime minister. Australians are looking for political leaders who will stand up to the mining billionaires who are keeping our economy in the dark ages and putting our future at risk.”

Outside the conference 800 people had gathered, including many youth to voice their concern over the need to rapidly move to 100 per cent renewables and to stop the Adani mine.

Kelly Albion, MC of the rally from Australian Youth Climate Coalition said: “First Nations people, young people, parents and grandparents were loud and fired up, because our future is on the line and we won’t stand for Labor’s compromises and fence-sitting when it comes to phasing out fossil fuel exports.”

The crowd gathered at the entrance to the Convention Centre, then marched around the building to ensure their message was heard by attendees inside. (Reports from inside said the chanting and singing could clearly be heard)

“Children and young people all over the world are having to make sacrifices and will continue to do so. They are paying the price of our inaction today. We are so lucky to have the privilege to stand up and speak out – that’s why I’m here taking action on climate change,” Adelaide high school student Doha Khahn said at the event.

Philippa Rowland, president of Multifaith SA, also addressed the crowd. “People of faith in Australia feel the urgent need for an ethical response to threats posed to vulnerable communities from escalating climate impacts across our region – all climate policies must include a rapid transition away from fossil fuels,” she said.

“It’s insane Australia is opening up new oil, gas and coal frontiers when we know we need to stop burning fossil fuels,” said Wilderness Society South Australia director Peter Owen. “Expanding the fossil fuel industry is the height of irresponsibility and not an option if we are to have any chance of providing our children with a liveable climate,

“We now know we must act immediately to avoid locking in catastrophic climate change. Allowing the fossil fuel industry to expand would negate Labor’s good work in promoting renewable energy. It’s time for the Labor party to show national leadership and commit to stopping the expansion of the fossil fuel industry when it sets its election platform at this national conference.”

The protest comes as one of Queensland’s leading christian figures has publicly vowed to use civil disobedience to block bulldozers in order to stop Adani’s mega-mine going ahead, and called on followers of other religions to join him.

“As a Christian, caring for Creation means putting that care into practice. If necessary, I will stand in front of Adani bulldozers to make political leaders take our climate emergency seriously,” said Dr Peter Catt, Dean of St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane.

“The proper political channels are failing us. When scientists tell us we are in danger of civilisation collapse unless we take very bold and urgent action, what else can we do?”

It is clear Adani has lost any social licence to operate. The Labor Party must also recognise this.

References:
The Guardian: Labor National Conference Day 1 – Live