IPCC Report – the bad news and the good news

by Andrew Tidswell, Blackwood Sustainable Communities Group
This article appeared on page 5 of Adelaide East Herald, 26 August 2021

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report makes it abundantly clear that urgent action is needed to slash our greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst consequences of global heating and extreme weather. The result of assessing over 14,000 scientific research papers on our changing climate must be taken seriously.

While our contribution to climate change is small compared to some other countries, we still emit more polluting gases per head of population than any other country on earth. And in our part of the world we must demonstrate that we are good neighbours and not a climate pariah.

The bad news

We have a federal government that refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of the issue and shows no leadership in addressing the dangerous path we are on. Their response is totally inadequate for the nature of the problem and out of step with most other countries. This leads us to more extreme weather events. Given that the IPCC identifies Australia as warming faster than the world average it is in our own health and economic interest to make the necessary changes now.

The good news

The rest of the world is taking it seriously, and the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (31 October-12 November) in Glasgow should see some significant global commitments. Businesses here and around the world are taking it seriously, and leading the necessary changes; especially moving rapidly to renewable energy and sustainable practices, stepping up to the plate where our government is failing. Change is happening faster than many people expected.

What can we do?

Find the things that are important to us and that we feel comfortable in doing. This could be to demand more from our federal government representatives to plan for our future, not just to win the next election. It is the government job to have comprehensive plans for seriously reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, for transitioning away from fossil fuels, and for adaptation to a climate with more extreme weather.

We could set an example of living in a way that reduces our contribution to climate change, both as a way of adapting to the future and setting an example for others. Individual actions are important to generate momentum for big changes.

We have the technology, the buy-in from industry, the community desire; all we need is the political will.

The science is settled, action is needed now.

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