Capricornia's future climate concerns addressed by PM
THIS federal election has seen climate change emerge as one of the leading topics at the forefront of voters minds and while both sides of politics agree something should be done, they dispute the speed and method of government-led action.
Extreme weather events, including heatwaves, droughts and floods are predicted to worsen in Capricornia unless emissions are cut and climate change is brought under control, according to a new climate assessment by The Australia Institute.
According to their data, if emissions continued to rise, by 2070 the electorate of Capricornia is projected to experience heatwaves lasting over 35 days, a 90-130 per cent increase in the frequency of droughts and flooding, up to 30 per cent increase in evaporation, up to 50 per cent reduction in rainfall and up to twice as many heatwave days per year.
The Australia Institute principal adviser on climate and energy Mark Ogge said reducing emissions was critical to averting more frequent and intense weather events.
"This is by far the biggest threat to anyone living in Central Queensland - any policy makers who are not serious about tackling climate change are asleep at the wheel," he said.
"These changes will impact every aspect of our lives and the economy. Farming would be severely impacted, heat-related illness and deaths would rise, anyone working outdoors, or indoor work places without air-conditioning, will suffer. Even ordinary recreational activities like sport would become difficult and far less enjoyable.
"Fortunately, this is not inevitable. We know that if we achieve the 1.5-degree Paris target that almost every country in the world has agreed to, almost all of these impacts can be avoided."
Mr Ogge said the steps we need to take to meet this challenge could be great for the region's economy.
"Capricornia has a competitive advantage with its great solar resource and huge opportunities for carbon farming that can provide additional income to farmers. But we need to act now," he said.
Labor's climate change and energy spokesman, Mark Butler, said The Australia Institute report on climate impacts on Capricornia showed just how important it was to have a government in Canberra taking real action on climate change.
"Only a Labor Government in Canberra will reduce pollution by 45 per cent by 2030, it is our promise to future generations," Mr Butler said. "Labor's 2030 commitment to deliver 50 per cent renewable energy has been estimated to bring power prices down and create 70,000 new jobs. Our hydrogen plan will lead to 16,000 jobs in the export sector alone.
"Our electric vehicle policy to deliver 30,000 jobs by 2030 and cut fuel bills for motorists, saving $500 at the bowser a year. Transitioning to a clean economy isn't a cost, it's an opportunity for innovation, new industries and new jobs."
Labor candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson said ignoring climate change was simply not an option.
"Each year there are more extreme weather events like droughts and floods - natural disasters are already costing the economy $18 billion a year, estimated to increase to $39 billion each year by 2050 if we fail to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement," he said.
Coalition's response to institute's CQ climate concerns
Speaking in Rockhampton last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government was on track towards addressing climate change without causing unnecessary damage to the economy.
"We've got our commitments, our global commitments that we will meet. We will meet our Kyoto targets, and our 2030 targets as well. They're responsible targets that don't shut industries down in Central Queensland," Mr Morrison said on a tour of the Nu-Tank operation in Parkhurst.
"We've got record renewable investments going into Australia. We've got $25billion in renewable investment coming into Australia in 2018-2020.
"(There are) 2.1 million households more with solar power on their roofs - 980,000 when we came into government."
He said they were meeting targets, encouraging renewables and not telling companies "here in Central Queensland" that they've got to buy foreign carbon credits from "goodness knows where" for an unknown purpose.
"Which is money they could be investing in local jobs and wages here in Central Queensland," he said.
"Labor wants you to choose between the environment and the economy. We're saying you can have both and should have both."
During a recent visit to Rockhampton, Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Michael McCormack explained his government's approach to tackling climate change saying it was about being practical and balanced.
"We need to make sure that we have a balanced environmental policy, and we have. We want to make sure that we do things at a practical, pragmatic level, and we are," Mr McCormack said.
"We want to make sure that we invest in our rivers, invest in our care for country, and we're doing that. But, what we also don't want to do is make sure that we de-industrialise Australia."
"We don't want to make sure that power is so unreliable and so unaffordable that we actually can't get the power when we turn on the switch."
Mr McCormack said they had policies to ensure reliable, affordable power was available, allowing factories, aluminium smelters, cement makers, to work at full throttle, full production.
He expressed concerns problems regarding the cost and consequences of Labor's plans for emissions reduction and 50 per cent renewables by 2030, warning it could de-industrialise Australia, force factory closures and farmers off the land.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry responded to the climate report saying the government was meeting and beating the emissions reduction targets while presiding over a strong economy, low unemployment and a budget surplus.
"It's important to remember climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution.
"We contribute just over 1 per cent cent of emissions. We will do our part, but obviously it requires a global solution," Ms andry said.
"Our fully costed $3.5billion Climate Solutions Plan and technology advancements will ensure Australia meets its 2030 Paris climate commitments."
This included reducing emissions across the economy with a $2billion Climate Solutions Fund, $50million for grants under the Energy Efficient Communities Program to help businesses and community organisations improve energy efficiency and $18million for households and businesses to improve energy efficiency to lower their energy bills.
She said independent modelling showed that Labor's emissions reduction and renewables targets would cost the economy $472billion, slash more than 336,000 jobs, cut the average wage by over $9000, and increase wholesale electricity prices by more than 58 per cent.