It is the opinion of DEA that the federal budget was a short-sighted political maneuver at the expense of a looming climate crisis that will weigh heavily on our children’s future. The scant attention to climate change mitigation and adaptation will dent the government’s capacity to deliver these goals. The budget failed health by almost halving climate spending to $1.6 billion, dropping to $1.2 billion by 2020, and by phasing out of the Renewable Energy Target by 2020. This shows there is no commitment in this budget to do anything about curbing emissions beyond this time.
Amidst the light and sound show about a stronger economy, jobs, essential services and the government living within its means, the scant attention to climate change mitigation and adaptation will dent the government’s capacity to deliver these goals.
Health and climate change are inextricably linked. Coal, a major driver of climate change, contributes to the premature deaths of 3000 Australians every year and costs our health system between $11.1 and $24.3 billion annually.
The health benefits alone of moving to a low carbon economy makes it worthwhile, let alone the impacts on infrastructure of floods, fires and droughts and their economic costs.
While money for the Great Barrier Reef- a richly endowed ecosystem that supports life- is welcome, it does not address the real reason for the destruction of the Reef which is ocean warming. Yet nowhere in the budget is this considered, even as an economic burden to be funded.
April saw global atmospheric CO2 at 410.31ppm, a level not seen in human history and it could rise to 550ppm by the end of the century – within the life-time of today's ten-year old.
To address climate change, Australia needs to:
· Stop burning and exporting fossil fuels
· Undergo an energy and infrastructure transition to embrace a low carbon economy
· Stop diesel fuel tax subsidies
· Protect national parks, marine parks
· Conserve water
· Implement land regeneration
· Assist developing countries to counter the effects of climate change
· Support climate science by providing assistance to such organisations as the CSIRO
· Augment the capacity of public interest media such as the ABC with proper funding
· Introduce a transport policy that emphasises public transport, electrification of all transport to improve air quality, prioritising pedestrians and cyclists over cars, and city planning to reduce transport times.