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Climate Action

Speech given in the Senate on 27 July 2022.

This is not my first speech. I rise today to speak about the call from people in the ACT and millions of Australians around the country for policy decisions in the 47th parliament to be guided by science. For the past few years, faced with unprecedented challenges—a global public health emergency—science has guided health policy. Scientists have been celebrated for their quick work developing vaccines. We have valued and respected their research. We need to extend that value and respect to all of our scientists. We need to depoliticise critical debates and start to genuinely listen to our scientists. We have rightly heard calls for a science-based response to the potentially devastating threat that foot-and-mouth disease poses to Australia.

We need the same when it comes to the science around climate and environment. The evidence is significant and requires an urgent response. The latest IPCC report, the result of the best scientific minds examining hard evidence, states that greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 if we are to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The IPCC's advice could not be clearer: we cannot afford new fossil fuel projects in Australia. Rather than opening new fossil fuel facilities, focus should be given to the incredible opportunities offered by a transition to clean energy and a focus on ensuring regional Australia benefits from this clean energy transition. Australia's renewable energy reserves are 75 per cent greater than our combined reserves of coal, oil, gas and uranium. Clean energy exports could be worth almost triple the value of Australia's existing fossil fuel exports.

In addition to benefits for regional communities, transition to clean energy will improve the lives of those in suburban Australia. Rooftop solar is a great Australian success story. Started under the Howard government, we now have some of the cheapest rooftop solar in the world. With the right policy we can do the same for battery, heat pumps and electric vehicles. In the ACT, electrification of households would save households on average $5,000 per year. At a time when cost-of-living pressures are hurting so many in our community, these savings are more important than ever. In order to make this transition we must move away from coal and gas and focus on the renewable technologies of the future. The 47th parliament has the opportunity to get on with this.