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Sunday, September 12, 2021

IPCC report, Labor climate policy and targets: Email to Peter Khalil MP for Wills

The following email was sent to Labor MP for Wills, Peter Khalil on 16 August 2021. As of 12 September 2021 there has been no response or acknowledgement of this email. 

Great concern over IPCC report, current Labor climate policy and targets

Peter Khalil
Federal MP for Wills.
16 August 2021

Dear Peter,
I hope your family is keeping well through the lockdowns. It is certainly a difficult time for us all to navigate through (and yes I have my own issues, and have recently become fully vaccinated with 2 doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine).

On Saturday 14 August I sat down and read the IPCC AR6 WG1 Summary for Policymakers document.(1) I hope you get a chance to read this 40 page report. I note it was vetted, accepted and approved by all governments.

See also the Detailed 2 page impacts document for Australiasia (PDF) (2)

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guiterres called the report "a code red for humanity.  The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable:  greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible."(3)

2021 has proven to be a new year of extreme weather events. The extreme heat waves  across the northern hemisphere in Canada, USA, Britain, Europe. The torrential rains and flooding in Germany, Japan, Turkey. The extreme wildfires in Greece, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia, Siberia, Canada, and US mid western and west coast states. The increase in prevalence of drought in Australia, USA, Middle East, Famine in Madagascar. These are all signs of a rapidly warming climate increasing extreme weather events, impacting human health, environmental loss, economic loss, reducing food security.

This raises a number of issues on climate policy for Australia, both for the Coalition Government and the ALP in opposition.

I am really concerned that the detailed science of accelerating climate change and climate impacts are eclipsing current government policy, targets, particularly gas exploitation and extraction and the 'gas led recovery'.

The recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report on Net Zero by 2050 identified we have more than enough fossil fuels in production to carrying us well past the 2 Degree temperature limit. We definitely don't need new coal or gas.(4)

You can read more on why we need to ramp up renewables not Gas in the December 2020 Climate Council Report, Passing Gas (PDF) (5)

I note the Labor Policy platform 2021 (PDF) includes under Point 34 "support for new gas projects and associated infrastructure".This is incongruent with phasing out fossil fuels and reaching either the 1.5C or 2C targets as set by the Paris Agreement.(6)

The pandemic has shown we need to listen to the science in regard to viruses, epidemiology. We need to ramp up policies to prepare for and avoid future pandemics. (See the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report: Escaping the Era of Pandemics.)(7)

We need to listen to climate science if we are to limit the damage to human health and civilisation, which poses an even greater economic, social and environmental threat to human civilisation and biodiversity.

I know the ball is in the court of the government in regard to climate ambition and more ambitious 2030 targets in the leadup to the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow in November (COP26). 

I know the Labor Opposition is trying to be a small target for the media in the lead up to the election on climate issues. 

I hope you are a strong advocate for ambitious action within the Labor parliamentary caucus and can persuade your colleagues to oppose new gas expansion, especially the fracking of the Beetaloo Basin, and high CO2 projects such as the Santos Barossa gas field off the Tiwi Islands(8). I note fracking the Beetaloo basin are likely to produce strong greenhouse gas emissions (9), and also substantial health and social issues for Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.(10) 

Of course, the measured phase out of coal through transitional economic programs to support workers and communities is also of importance, as renewables and storage systems are ramped up.

I know you are very busy with constituent problems from the pandemic as our MP for Wills, but the climate emergency is looming as an even greater problem for us all. I have tried to keep this communication brief (but well referenced) I expect to hear from you in regard to these issues.

John Englart
Convenor, Climate Action Moreland
Fawkner, Vic 3060

1. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report Working Group 1, The Physical Science
2. IPCC AR6 Regional fact sheet - Australasia
3. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guiterres comment on the IPCC report
4. International Energy Agency (IEA) report on Net Zero by 2050
5. Climate Council Report, Passing Gas (December 2020)
6. Labor Policy platform 2021 Chapter 3, Energy and Environment, Point 34 
7. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report: Escaping the Era of Pandemics.(2020) 
8. Jubilee Australia - Webinar Outlines Why The Barossa Project Is Worth Worrying About (May 2021) 
9. Weapons of Gas Destruction - Lifting the lid on greenhouse gas emissions from Australian fossil gas projects and resources, Tom Swann, The Australia Institute (Dec 2020) 
10. The Beetaloo drilling program brings potential health and social issues (10 Aug 2021) UoQ Faculty of Medicine 

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