02 September, 2021
Last week the IPCC’s assessment report said climate change is catastrophic, it is happening and it is caused by burning fossil fuels. This means more extreme weather across the planet as we are seeing floods, heatwaves, wildfires, melting poles and sea levels rise. Meanwhile we have this government’s climate action plan, a summary of pre-existing policies slapped together on a website. The government wants to cut pollution by 30 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. The science is clear: we need a 75 per cent cut. This plan is a climate death sentence.
The government also proposes a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2050, but after nearly seven years of Labor government we are at just 20 per cent. Climate pollution is now higher than when Labor took office in 2015. The plan does not mention that Labor refused to close coal and gas-fired power stations and that it proudly campaigned on 18 new coalmine approvals. It does not mention extinguishing native title to approve Adani. Wangan and Jagalingou custodian Adrian Burragubba said Adani—
"will be a catastrophe every bit as destructive to our culture, and as hurtful to our people, as the blasting of the caves at the Juukan Gorge".
The plan does not mention the government has released 80,000 square kilometres in the Channel Country for gas and fracking exploration. It does not mention that the government refuses to veto a taxpayer-funded handout to build the Olive Downs metallurgical coalmine while other countries crack on with green steel. Just this morning I asked the resources minister what the IPCC report means for Queensland. He said that coalmining will be part of Queensland’s economy well into the future. He mentioned metallurgical coal but overlooked the role of green steel, made using hydrogen, already being rolled out in other parts of the world. In estimates I got no confirmation of plans to commence green steel manufacturing here in Queensland. Actually, the DG asked me what I meant when I said ‘green steel’.
In Queensland, in terms of our mining and exports, we are a major contributor to climate change. What we do here matters. The IPCC report is clear and this tinkering around the edges by Labor is just not good enough. We need to stop approving new fossil fuel projects. We need to create thousands of new jobs investing in 100 per cent publicly owned renewable energy right across Queensland. We need an actual plan to phase out existing coal-fired power stations, thermal coal and fracked gas, including a full transition plan for workers. This government needs to listen to the scientists rather than its mining industry mates and get on with climate action.