Released last Monday, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is the most comprehensive study of its kind, and it’s also the most damning.
Gone is the 2015 Paris Agreement target of keeping rising temperatures to below 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level, as we’re likely to hit that by 2030. And the world’s leading climate scientists outline that the rise in global temperatures is likely to hit somewhere between 2.5 to 4°C.
The IPCC researchers have reiterated the best-case scenario of reaching net zero global greenhouse emissions by 2050, which should keep the rise to 1.6°C. However, this would require emissions to peak within the next couple of years.
In terms of Australia, our land areas have already risen by 1.4°C. Sea levels have hiked at a higher level than the global average and will continue to do so. And “the intensity, frequency and duration of fire weather events are projected to increase”, in the same way we’ve already seen happen.
However, this “code red for humanity” hasn’t fazed prime minister Scott Morrison. “The IPCC report affirms to me again my fundamental belief about how we must address this global challenge,” he told a press conference on the day after its release.
And this “fundamental belief” seems to be all about passing the buck.
“We cannot ignore the fact that the developing world accounts for two thirds of global emissions, and those emissions are rising,” the leader of our nation continued. “That is a stark fact. It is also a clear fact that China’s emissions account for more than the OECD combined.”
“The calculus of climate change”
Before further following the argument our most senior minister put forth, we should note that the 2019 Climate Analytics report found that per capita Australia’s carbon emissions “are among world’s highest”: 9 times higher than China’s, four times that of the US and 37 times India’s.
So, continuing with Morrison, he then outlined that many “developing world” emitters complain about having to reduce emissions because the “advanced world” emitters already have “advanced economies” because they were able to develop long-term “on the basis of fossil fuel industries”.
Indeed, the prime minister agrees with the developing world in this respect, asking why they should be denied the chance “to go forward” in this way. So, rather than taxing the Global South into cutting emissions, we should “enable them” to continue on with their fossil fuel industries.
Why? Well, because technology is “the game changer”. So, in order to put a halt to changing climate, Morrison posits, all economies should continue to careen down the fossil fuel developmental path in order to create new technology that will be able to stop this crisis.
A disinformation campaign
Released last month, the Sustainable Development Report 2021 ranked Australia last in terms of taking climate action out of the 193 United Nations member countries.
Yet, according to our head of state, “Australia is part of the solution”, with its “strong track record of performance”.
“I won’t be signing a blank cheque on behalf of Australians to targets without plans,” the PM asserted during his disinformation tirade. “Regional communities should not be forced to carry the national burden, and I won’t let them.”
However, Morrison’s speech indicates that he has signed “a blank cheque” in terms of the continuing expansion of the fossil fuel industry, both here and overseas. And he’s obviously ignored the option of a fast-tracked and just transition to already existing renewable energies technologies.
And the Pentecostal PM shouldn’t be too concerned that regional communities will be the only ones carrying “the national burden”, as it’s the entire global community and all those yet to be born who will pay the price for his having damned us all to hell on Earth.
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Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He has a focus on human rights issues, encroachments on civil liberties, drug law reform, gender diversity and First Nations rights. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, he wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.