Sydney Morning Herald: The right side of history? Labor's noble climate talk lost in coal smoke


Labor is all over the shop on climate change, writes Dr David Shearman. Labor's national president, Wayne Swan, is preaching that the party must stay on "the right side of history" and stick to ambitious carbon targets. This is even as Senator Penny Wong stated in response to pleas from Pacific Island nations that an ALP federal government would not ban new coal mines, and as Labor's Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressed pride in coal exports.  Talking down the impact of Australia's coal in effect puts Labor in support of a government policy that invites climate catastrophe. 

Australia's domestic and export fossil fuel emissions now account for 5 per cent of global emissions but current coal, gas and oil developments could increase that to 12 to 17 per cent by 2030, according to study by Climate Analytics.

Our choice is stark. 

To continue, along with the US and a few other recalcitrant nations, makes not only the disaster of a 2-degree-warmer world certain but a catastrophic 4-degree-warmer planet likely, based on mounting evidence collated in a paper by Breakthrough – National Centre for Climate Restoration Policy. 

Swan can talk that talk, but Labor needs to start walking on the right side of the line, and trust that voters will walk with them.

David Shearman is a founder of Doctors for the Environment Australia and emeritus Professor of Medicine at Adelaide University.

The full article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Canberra Times  on 30 August 2019.


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