Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. M.C. Parnell:
That this council–
1. Recognises that global average temperature, atmospheric greenhouse gases and ocean acidity are already at dangerous levels;
2. Notes that around the world, climate change impacts are already causing loss of life and destroying vital ecosystems;
3. Declares that we are facing a climate emergency; and
4. Commits to restoring a safe climate by transforming the economy to zero net emissions.
(Continued from 11 September 2019.)
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (17:35): I rise on behalf of the Labor opposition to indicate our strong support for this motion. I put on the record today Labor's strong support for recognising that in this state and in this country, and indeed on the planet, we are facing undeniably a climate emergency. The truth is that we have known for decades that climate change is real and has the potential to cause catastrophic damage to our planet. We know that it is anthropogenic (caused by humans) and it is our activities that are having this impact on the planet.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was formed in 1988, a year that saw, among other things, fires in the Amazon rainforest that shocked the world. It is a sad reality that we are being shocked all over again more than 30 years later. We really should have been awake to what was happening many, many years earlier than what we are seeing now.
We are absolutely in a worse place today in terms of changing our behaviour than we could have been if we had acted 10 or 15 years ago. As I noted, the Amazon is burning all over again. The fires were partly started by land clearing activities but were exacerbated by their devastating impact on the environment of setting pristine rainforest alight in Brazil and other parts of South America, and also around the world.
Global average temperatures continue to skyrocket. In 2018 it was the fourth hottest year on record by global average temperature, behind 2017, 2015, 2016 and just ahead of 2014. Ice is melting at alarming rates in Greenland, the Arctic and the Antarctic, contributing to significant rates of sea level rise. I understand there have been at least two funerals now for glaciers that have disappeared in the Northern Hemisphere.
These challenges alone are enough to demand a response from our governments but the impact on our community calls us now, if not previously, to immediate action. Estimates suggest that some 85 per cent of Australia's population lives within 50 kilometres of our country's coastline. Their homes, their property and indeed the lives of much of our population are at risk from rising sea levels and that is even before we start to think about calculating the cost to replace public infrastructure that will be under water.
We know too well the devastating impact of bushfires and natural disasters in our country that continue to cause pain across our state and, indeed, other states. All indications suggest that climate change will lead to—and perhaps is already leading to—far more dangerous fire conditions for extended periods way outside of the normal seasons where we expect to experience these catastrophes.
Again, this is not news, and neither should be the causes of this climate emergency. However, under this Federal Liberal government, Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory has frequently shown our greenhouse gas emissions are increasing and, despite the assurances of three successive Liberal prime ministers to the contrary, the facts speak otherwise. Our greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing year on year. I just cannot believe federal ministers and federal prime ministers when they tell us that they are taking climate change seriously. Their actions confound me and I certainly do not understand how they believe they are taking climate change seriously at all.
The most recent quarterly update of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory showed our national emissions have risen to their highest rate since 2012-13. Australia's emissions have hit the highest level in seven years. All indications are that our country will fail to meet our targets under the Paris climate agreement of 26 per cent emissions reduction by 2030, despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison consistently telling us all that we are on track to meet them. That is transparently false and unreal. Even that target, which, as I said, we are on track to miss, is far too low if we are desirous of making real changes to the trajectory of climate change. Because we have left it so late, we now have to make even bigger cuts than we otherwise would have done.
The UN Climate Action Summit in New York, which the Prime Minister has decided not to attend despite being in the country, has focused on achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Yet, under the Liberal Party and the Nationals at the federal level, Australia has no plan to achieve anything near that rate. Scientists, experts and officials from around the world, and indeed in our own Public Service, have laid out the facts of the climate emergency, have laid out policy options to decarbonise our economy, but they have not been heard by the national government of this country.
It is clear that we need to end our country’s reliance on fossil fuels, continue to transition to renewable energy and support workers in those industries throughout this transition—a just transition. We need to continue this transition to low emissions in the transport sector by looking at electric passenger vehicles. We must invest in modernising and evolving our public transport network to drive these changes and not rely on privatisation to do it, because it simply will not. We need to hold our country’s biggest polluters to account and ensure they are taking effective measures to curb their impact on the planet.
I am very proud that the former state Labor government of which I was a member was working hard to create a low-carbon economy and to ensure South Australia was leading the way in taking action on the climate emergency. I am very pleased to see the current state government working further and taking some leadership in terms of the hydrogen economy, which was announced this week.
I am also very proud that the federal Labor Party has consistently adopted ambitious climate policies and emissions reduction targets and is now reviewing those policies to ensure they reflect the best available science. That should be a continuous and continuing process, because science changes. The science is telling us they underestimated the rate of change in terms of global warming and that we now need to move harder and faster than we did before.
State and national governments must take a leadership role in addressing the climate emergency, but as we can see here, our states, our federal government, but also around the world, are dragging their heels. Some of them are flat out refusing to take the necessary action, and our federal LNP government is one of them.
That is why it has been so heartening to see people holding governments to account around the world this week and demanding action on this crisis. When thousands of South Australians join millions around the world in striking for climate action, it becomes more critical than ever that we listen. I hope all of us in this place can reflect on the incredible leadership shown by the students who organised last week’s climate strike and the nearly 400,000 people who attended.
I have to say I find it offensive to hear some federal MPs, politicians, ministers, leaders of the government, and also their state counterparts, chastise young people for taking this climate action and say they should be in school. When I was in school, I was given a day off to watch The Queen drive past and wave. That was okay, according to these people who think that children should be staying in school. It is okay for me to have a day off to go and watch The Queen drive by, but not okay for young people to stand up and defend what they think they need to defend for this planet and for their future on it.
The federal government just continues to lie to us about this climate change issue that they are supposedly addressing so wonderfully. It is no surprise that young people in this country can see straight through those lies and have taken it upon themselves to advocate for true leadership. Nowhere is that more evident than when our Prime Minister skipped the New York climate summit to spend time checking out a new McDonald's drive-through system. It was a state-of-the-art, electronic drive-through system that our Prime Minister saw as being the most valuable use of his time in the United States, instead of going to New York and participating in the climate summit. Or indeed when the Deputy Prime Minister said that students should go on strike on a weekend when they do not have school. I do not know how you can go on strike and withdraw your labour or your studies when school is actually not doing the job of educating you.
But maybe students would not have had to go on strike on Friday if the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister had bothered to do their jobs and lead this country in the direction it needs to be led in terms of reducing our emissions. On the question of this motion we have before us, I think many members have received some heartfelt emails from our constituents in our state describing the impact of climate change on their lives—emails from young people, emails from activists, emails from farmers, emails from a broad cross-section of our community.
We, on the Labor side, of course, and many others in this chamber, are listening to these calls from our community and we are also listening to the scientists and the experts who have been aware of these issues for so long but have been ignored. We support recognising the situation for what it is and I thank the honourable member for bringing this motion to the chamber's attention. We are talking about a climate emergency. For the reasons that I have outlined, and many others, I indicate that the Labor team will be supporting the Hon. Mr Parnell's motion and I look forward to its speedy passage.
There being a disturbance in the strangers' gallery:
The PRESIDENT: There is no clapping in the gallery. I will clear the gallery if there are any further disturbances. Members have a right to speak. This is not a participatory sport. The Hon. Ms Pnevmatikos.
The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS (17:46): I rise to speak on the Hon. Mark Parnell's climate emergency declaration in South Australia motion and to indicate my strong support for the motion. This motion goes some way towards recognising that the effects of climate change are being experienced globally and that there is a real sense of urgency. This declaration requires us to prepare, adopt and build resilience against climate change for the most vulnerable and create systemic change in our policies and our state governance structures to ensure a healthy future for generations to come.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen the incredible power of collective action from the School Strike 4 Climate movement, not only overseas and interstate but in South Australia. On 20 September, community members from all over the state and country participated in the climate strikes. I walked with more than 10,000 people, led by schoolchildren and students, at the Adelaide event. The strike was not only to push for general action on climate change but to express concerns in relation to fossil fuel dependence, renewable energy options and transitional job creation in new industries.
I was proud to walk in solidarity with the school climate strikers. Students were highly criticised for taking the afternoon off school to strike. Unsurprisingly, the greatest disapproval came from the Morrison government. Acting leader, minister McCormick, denounced the strikes saying, 'These sorts of rallies should be held on the weekend when it doesn't actually disrupt schools.' Somehow minister McCormick has seemed to miss the whole point of the school climate strike. The ability to strike and take political action is a fundamental democratic right in our society available to all, irrespective of age.
Greta Thunberg began the school strikes in August 2018. On Monday, when addressing the UN climate summit, she said:
You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words and yet I am one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
As the leader of the international School Strike 4 Climate movement, Greta has not been able to avoid criticism. Not only has she been condemned for leaving class to strike but she has been demeaned because of her mental health. In response to the criticisms, she talked openly about living with Asperger's. The personal attacks towards Greta Thunberg and her mental health are unacceptable.
Monday also marked the beginning of the United Nations 2019 climate summit. The summit will see countries commit to a list of demands, including the ban of new coal power stations, reducing fossil fuel subsidies and increasing national targets for countries to become carbon neutral by 2050. Although invited to attend Australia was asked not to speak, along with several other coal-supporting economies such as the US and Japan. The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, stated that only leaders with a clear climate action plan would be asked to speak, as the cost of inaction is too high.
Despite being in the US visiting, our Prime Minister has actively ignored the call from other political parties, activists and Australian climate strikers to attend the summit in New York, which seriously questions the bona fides of the federal government's commitment to climate change solutions.
Unlike the federal government, our state has been able to make great strides in climate-friendly activities. Although we are still trailing behind Tasmania with their 95 per cent use of renewable energy, South Australia recorded 50 per cent renewable energy use in 2018. With strong policies and initiatives from the previous Labor government, out of all the states and territories we had the largest increase to renewable resources with 7.4 per cent.
Although these numbers are a promising indicator of a growing trend, progress is not happening at a fast enough rate, nor does it mean that we will not be affected by the climate crisis. The Australian Climate Commission predicts that without effective adaptation to the worsening climate over the next decade South Australia will see heat-related deaths double, a decline in rainfall so large that it is more than likely to dry up the southern Murray-Darling Basin, and our sea levels will rise, leading to flooding that is projected to displace over 25,000 people.
Earlier in the week, the Red Cross revealed that South Australians are extremely underprepared for natural disasters. Monday marked the start of the Red Cross annual Disaster Preparedness Week. Red Cross acknowledges the reality that natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe. It is obvious that South Australians are underprepared for the effects of climate change. We must create a South Australia that is adaptable to a changing climate and act to prevent further degradation of our environment.
I thank the Hon. Mark Parnell for initiating this motion. This motion is the first step to acknowledging that we are living with a climate crisis. Although this declaration should have been made years ago, it is of the utmost importance that we support this motion. It is an essential step forward to achieve greater acceptance of sustainable energy methods and encourage climate-conscious decisions within our parliament. We cannot ignore the strikes any more. Quite frankly, it is sad that the adults are behaving like children and the children are behaving as adults and taking the lead. It is about time we started listening to the young of our state.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (17:52): I rise today in support of the Hon. Mark Parnell's motion calling for a climate emergency. On 3 July this year, I spoke about how I had been converted from a climate sceptic to a person who believed in climate change. Whilst I had been presented with information on climate change over the years, the impetus to my new outlook was watching a panel of scientific experts on a Q&A special on the ABC. In recent times, I have had even more exposure to this subject, perhaps due to the world's media focusing more of their attention on the matter.
Last Friday, we had the second School Strike 4 Climate in Adelaide, where we saw thousands of people converge on Victoria Square and Parliament House to protest about the lack of action being taken by governments all over on climate change. The real difference in the strikes is that they were organised by children, who were furious that the world we have brought them into may forever be ruined if we do not take action now.
Some of this passion was demonstrated yesterday by young climate activist GretaThunberg, who took world leaders to task over inaction on climate change. Greta spoke passionately and angrily about the matter at the United Nations climate summit, where she was invited to appear as a panellist. The response to Greta's speech was alarming. The President of the United States of America decided to respond with sarcasm by calling her 'a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.' I see this essentially as arguably the most powerful person in the world bullying a child, and it is not behaviour that I condone.
Also concerning is our Prime Minister's warning against imposing 'needless anxiety' on our children. This statement indicates the Prime Minister does not understand the issue or the urgency in which it needs to be tackled. For an issue to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people around the world to protest about it clearly demonstrates it is a matter that people feel very strongly about. The fact that this action is led by children speaks volumes as to how important they believe this matter to be, and I am heartened by their actions.
It is up to us as elected members of our community to take action and to listen to what people are saying. Expert scientists and the evidence provided on climate change cannot be wrong. Hundreds of thousands of people completely disillusioned with their leaders cannot be wrong. I want to send a strong message to say that I have heard what the people and our children have been saying. As such, I support the motion.
The Hon. C. BONAROS (17:55): I, too, rise to speak in support of the Hon. Mark Parnell's motion. Like other members here, last Friday I took part, along with thousands of students, in the global School Strike 4 Climate. The movement, as has already been mentioned, was founded by inspirational young woman Greta Thunberg 13 months ago.
Greta, the teenage climate activist from Sweden who delivered a much-watched speech at the United Nations on Monday, has been celebrated for her activism on climate change, including galvanising the worldwide youth-led protests of the last week. But she has also become a lightning rod, drawing attacks by television and social media commentators.
Most of us know who Greta is by now, and she has been mentioned several times today, but a year ago she was one young person alone exercising her democratic right to protest in Stockholm. Just yesterday, I read an online post by Greta, predominantly aimed at her critics. When she first told her parents about her intention to protest, they were not supportive of her intentions at all. In fact, she defied their advice.
A year later, she has motivated a global movement of millions of people, young and old, determined to make world leaders notice. How proud her parents must be now, and what a valuable lesson she has taught them and all of us about fighting for what you believe in. Throughout history, we have seen some fiercely intelligent, powerful and inspirational women who have been pioneers for women's rights and racial equality, and have defined the worlds of science, mathematics, aviation and literature.
So many women have undeniably changed the world for the better. Greta Thunberg is among these young women, putting us to shame in the areas of environmental protection and global warming and showing us what it means to be a role model. Greta gave a blistering speech, as has been referred to, at the United Nations summit, criticising world leaders for their 'betrayal' of young people through a lack of action on the climate crisis.
I think the science of climate change and the effect it is having on our environment, our wildlife, our oceans and on our neighbours in the Pacific speaks for itself. Instead, I want to touch on some of the language used in recent days to demean, belittle and discredit Greta and her message—the reason why she posted the social media comment I alluded to earlier. Former Labor flunky turned One Nation politician Mark Latham has said on his Facebook page, 'We're grown-ups here, we don't take lectures from a girl from Sweden who is screaming hysterically about the end of the planet.' Mark Latham is many things, but given his spats over the years, particularly directed at women, including Rosie Batty, he is anything but grown-up.
In his quote, Latham claims Thunberg is 'screaming hysterically'. The hallmark behaviour of a hysteric—overly emotional, out of control and irrational—was uniquely characteristic of women and linked directly to their anatomy. Hysteria today is no longer an accepted medical diagnosis, but the word lives on as a colloquial way to deem someone out of control and irrational. It is a cheap shot, and I call out Mark Latham for using that language in reference to Greta Thunberg, or any woman, indeed. He seems to be erroneously equating forcefulness as hysteria in women, and we have been shushed, scolded and silenced throughout history.
Greta Thunberg is intelligent, articulate and thoughtful, and she is not going to be silenced by the likes of Mark Latham. I have no doubt that she will achieve more in her lifetime to fight for the inaction over climate change than Mark Latham could ever hope to achieve. She is already known the world over and has become so in just one year. Mark Latham, on the other hand, had to ride on Pauline Hanson's coat-tails in order to get elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council.
Then there is the Fox News guest who labelled Greta as 'a mentally ill Swedish child, exploited by her parents'. The America Autism Society has come out in support of Thunberg, who is on the spectrum, and have said:
To intentionally demean any person, regardless of neurodiversity, is both cruel and wrong. Certainly some might disagree with Ms Thunberg on policy issues, but it is shameful to issue a derogatory statement to a youth advocate.
Julia Bascom, Executive Director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, has said:
It is absolutely unconscionable to attack someone for their disability, especially when that person is a child...History is full of autistic people and people with other cognitive disabilities who were and are compelling credible activists and leaders. Greta is a part of that tradition, and our community is lucky to have her, period.
It is absolutely unconscionable to attack someone for any disability or any other condition they may have, but especially so when that person is a child.
Greta Thunberg has been mocked online by President Trump, as has been alluded to, but she has fought back with intelligence and wit, embracing his words on her Twitter page. The Murdoch mouthpiece, The Australian, has also run a series of pieces attacking Thunberg, calling her a threat, calling her a child of the climate cult. Our Prime Minister has responded to Greta's impassioned speech and her impassioned pleas by declaring that the climate change debate is subjecting Australian children to needless anxiety. He has said:
I want children growing up in Australia to feel positive about their future, and I think it is important we give them that confidence that they will not only have a wonderful country and positive environment to live in, that they will also have an economy to live in as well, and I don't want our children to have anxieties about these issues.
Well, guess what, Mr Prime Minister: they do feel worried about this issue—they feel worried enough to strike across the world, as they did last Friday, and they are justified in their concerns and they are, as has been referred to, exercising their democratic right to express those concerns.
I support Greta Thunberg in her efforts to mobilise a critical mass of people to effect change and get politicians like us to sit up and take notice. I have and I am listening; I am listening to the countless individuals who have contacted me in recent weeks and days expressing their support for this motion and urging me to do the same. I am so pleased at the number of young individuals that list includes who, like Greta, are looking to us, in fact pleading with us, to protect their futures and that of their children by demanding climate action now.
In closing, I, too, would like to thank the Hon. Mark Parnell not only for introducing this motion but also of course for his years of ongoing efforts in terms of raising awareness on these most important issues and urging us to follow suit in this place. I commend him for the motion.
The Hon. F. PANGALLO (18:04): I rise to strongly support and commend the Hon. Mark Parnell's motion. We can all see the evidence of climate change and the impact it is having, not only on our lives but on other communities around the world. Just the other day, I heard a report about a group that was mourning the death of Switzerland's melting glacier Pizol, a local chaplain calling on God's help to tackle the enormous challenge of climate change.
A total of 500 glaciers have disappeared in Switzerland since 1850. The ice caps are melting, the seas are rising, and forest fires in the Amazon, regarded as the lungs of the world, are causing environmental damage. Farmers are lighting fires to clear tracts of land in Indonesia and other parts of South-East Asia. Africa has its problems. We have seen the damage being done by an over-reliance on fossil fuels like coal in developing economies like China, India and South America as well as South-East Asia. The powerhouse governments of the world need to do something. Talk is not enough. We are having talkfests in the United Nations right now. There is no point in talking if you do not do it.
Dr Bjorn Lomborg, one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people and a visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School, wrote an article published in The Weekend Australian last week, in which he said:
After 30 years of failed climate policy, more of the same is not the answer. Since the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, our use of renewable energy has increased by only 1.1 percentage points—from meeting 13.1 per cent of the world's energy needs in 1992 to 14.2 per cent today. Most nations are failing to deliver on carbon cut undertakings already made—yet politicians will be feted in New York for making new, empty promises.
…despite all the rhetoric about the importance of global warming, we are not ramping up this spending. On the sidelines of the 2015 Paris climate summit, more than 20 world leaders made a promise to double green energy research and development by 2020.
Spending has inched up from $US16bn in 2015 to only $US17bn last year. This is a broken promise that matters…
Sadly, growth policies, adaptation, green R&D and an optimal CO2 tax are not what we will be hearing from the climate summit in New York.
But after 30 years of pursuing the wrong solution to climate change, we need to change the script.
They have been talking and talking, setting emission targets for a long time now, and it is no wonder a new generation is fed up and we are seeing the rise of young climate activists like Greta Thunberg. Here in our country last week, hundreds of thousands of students went on strike to send us a message that they want action to save the world and guarantee the futures of generations that follow.
David Attenborough has taken issue with Australia for the lack of policy direction, the complacency and the ignorance that exists in Canberra while places like the Great Barrier Reef are at risk. It did not take long for the right to come out swinging against him, probably the greatest environmentalist of our generation, who has done more to open our eyes to climate catastrophes and protecting what we have than anyone else.
Greta Thunberg is following in his footsteps. Just 16, she is extremely articulate, informed and passionate. She has told world leaders they have stolen her dreams and childhood. Already, the right-wingers are priming their knives to cut her down and what they perceive as a climate cult. Being the bully he is, President Trump took a cynical swipe at Greta in one of his dopey, boorish tweets, sarcastically wishing her a bright and wonderful future. For what reason would he need to pick on a kid, considering the far more serious matters currently swirling around him?
I am particularly impressed by Greta, an extremely intelligent child who has overcome the challenges of Asperger's syndrome. She calls it a superpower rather than a disability, and I could not agree with her more. My own son Connor also has Asperger's syndrome and he, too, believes what he has is a gift, and it is, and we are blessed. I hope Greta is not going to be targeted by social media trolls and right-wing commentators looking for sacrificial lambs in this debate. I hope she sails her solar and wind-powered yacht to Australia, stopping along the way in China to deliver them a strong message too, because the world unfortunately seems reluctant to send strong messages to them because of the trade and economic conflicts.
Greta is the Malala Yousafzai of the climate change movement. The children of the climate change revolution are here now, wanting to be heard. They are our future leaders, so I am confident that our world will be in good hands. In the meantime, I would like to conclude with an impassioned and informed email I received overnight from constituent Joanne Baulderstone, a mother of two and a biologist with 30 years' experience in working in natural environments, who says that the trajectory of our climate is quite terrifying. She puts it in proper perspective in asking me and the parliament to support the Hon. Mark Parnell's motion and to do something after talking about it. She says:
Quite frankly, I can't see a positive future for my family, my community, or the world, if we in Australia, and countries over the globe, can't do the following as stated in the recent United in Science report:
And I will quote from it:
Only immediate and all-inclusive action encompassing: deep decarbonization complemented by ambitious policy measures, protection and enhancement of carbon sinks and biodiversity, and efforts to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, will enable us to meet the Paris Agreement.
She goes on to say:
I will point out a few examples of my thoughts and observations that lead me to feel so strongly about this, and particularly publicly recognising and declaring that it is an Emergency situation we are all in:
This year in the Adelaide region we have had the driest seven months since 1970, and in July only received half the rainfall that we normally get…
And these are Bureau of Meteorology figures. It continues:
Regardless of whether this is caused by climate change will not (and I'd argue it is, or at the very least is an example of what will happen more and more in the future), this has followed a dry 2018/19 summer, and the sudden death in April this year of many mature native eucalypts in our local area—iconic Stringybarks of the high rainfall areas of the Mount Lofty Ranges. I wonder how many more will die this summer after not having had the winter rainfall that they have evolved to survive from. Only time will tell.
I saw man land on the moon when I was six months old. I wasn't aware of the effort it took to make that moon landing happen until recently, and at 50 years of age, imagine that what is needed now, to prevent the Earth becoming inhospitable, is akin to that dedication shown back then, and more so. Will enough happen, so that those alive in the future will look back and think wow, they achieved their goals and we are amazed at their efforts? Or will we have another 50 years of knowing what we needed to do, but didn't do it? Only time will tell.
I'm unlikely to live another 50 years, but my boys hopefully will. I have imagined what their lives will be like in Australia under different climate scenarios. Have you? I have imagined what they will remember me for, and whether they will be proud of me. Only time will tell.
If the earth was scaled down to fit in the palm of our hand, we'd be amazed at it, and do everything we possibly could to look after it and everything on it. We need to do that for our own life-sized Earth. Why on Earth, would we not care for and look after it? Why irreversibly destroy it? It's beyond belief! If for no other reason than 'we humans live on it and it's our own home', will we decide to have a sustainable Earth, and take action globally to make that happen, or not? Only time will tell.
We are all part of the one planet. Boundaries don't matter to the way climate changes. What we do in Australia does matter, on many levels. As Armstrong said, 'We've got to save the earth—looking back at Earth from the moon, the earth so small, a small oasis; and we need to look after it.' Only time will tell if we do.
She says that she wakes up every day to:
…feel the dread of another day with not enough action. Another day with carbon spewing out into our atmosphere, and more sun's rays entering and becoming trapped within it. More ecosystems messed up, and less time to fix it all. What's happening is so obvious, the solutions there, so why can't we just get on with it asap?
This is science, not opinion. The only opinion is whether we think life on earth (or how much of it) is worth saving.
As I said, it is quite a moving email that I received last night and I thought it was prudent of me to share it with the parliament. She finishes off:
It's time to set politics aside and do what's right for humankind. Our children's very existence is being threatened and our actions today will set in motion what kind of future they will inherit. We are the last generation that can successfully mitigate the worst effects of this climate emergency.
There is nothing like hearing something like that from real people. I could not agree more with Joanne. I commend this motion to the Legislative Council.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (18:15): I rise in support of the crucial motion put before this place by my colleague the Hon. Mark Parnell. We have heard countless reasons in this place to begin acting on climate change, including the findings of last year's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That is why it is timely for us as a council to show the South Australian parliament's support for recognising that global average temperature, atmospheric greenhouse gases and ocean acidity are already at dangerous levels; to note that, around the world, climate change is impacting and already causing loss of life and destroying vital ecosystems; and to recognise that we are facing a climate emergency and commit to restoring a safe climate by transforming our economy to zero net emissions.
I echo the congratulations that other members have made of the students who led the global climate strike that many of us participated in last Friday 20 September. Those of us who were there in attendance watched in absolute awe as well over 15,000, possibly 17,000 to 18,000, marched from Victoria Square to the steps of this Parliament House. King William Street was completely full from start to finish, from parliament to the square. The young marshals diligently shifted that crowd as it spread from North Terrace all the way down Grenfell Street and all the way to the square. The global actions that we saw on the television and on the internet that day and night set a new narrative, a narrative of hope and solidarity for climate justice. We felt it on the day; I hope we see it here tonight.
For those who criticise young people for taking a day off school—and I note the Hon. Ian Hunter mentioned that he took a day off school to see The Queen; in my generation it was Lady Di, as we waved our wattle—there was no better place that they could be. Indeed, as the last climate strike showed, and one of my favourites was a local student who wrote, 'Even the introverts are out today', and I shared some of that sentiment. Another in this climate strike this past Friday had a beautiful placard that said the climate is hotter than her imaginary boyfriend. But the time for fairytales is over or we will not have a happy ending here.
I commend all the climate action groups and their supporters for raising their voices to all levels of government, including the state government and, of course, within their communities. I also want to acknowledge that South Australian local councils have added their voices to declaring a climate emergency, including the Town of Gawler, Adelaide Hills Council, Light Regional Council, the City of Port Lincoln, the City of Adelaide and, as of last night, the City of Burnside. There you go, John Darley; perhaps you had an effect.
I would like to remind those who organised with their community that I am confident of this motion tonight, particularly because it is preceded by their hard work and especially the work of those young people that we have heard comment on already this evening. However, some have called declaring a climate emergency somehow too emotive. Aside from actually calling a spade a spade, acknowledgement of a climate emergency calls for the very sense of urgency that is needed to address the threat of climate change.
Many, if not all, emergencies will already create casualties and damage before they are met with a response. This is especially the case when a response is unreasonably late. In such emergencies we need to take care of ourselves, to take moments to regain our composure and, at times, allow ourselves time to grieve. I know that many people feel held back at the moment by despair and panic. This is not the time for panic. This is the time to keep our heads, to show our strength and fight to protect all that we can: not to hesitate, not to give up, not to despair. This is the time not to throw our hands up but to roll our sleeves up.
We have a duty to acknowledge the climate emergency and to respond. As a state we need to plan methodically, to act now and to move carefully but quickly. There is no planet B. We must have a plan. We need to speed up our actions and make sure that we reach zero net emissions as soon as practicable. We need to do our part, of course, to transition workers into cleaner, new industries and leave behind the remaining reserves of fossil fuels in the ground. With those fossil fuels in the ground, the fossil fools in our parliament should be left behind and consigned to the dustbin of history as well.
All political parties at all levels of government need to work together to address the threat of climate change and I am pleased tonight to add my voice in support of this motion. It is a necessary beginning step to show that we are united. I call on the council to support this motion. Let's roll up our sleeves. Our house is on fire. This is the time to act.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (18:21): I rise to make some comments in support of this motion. I move the amendments standing in my name:
leave out 'already at dangerous levels' and insert 'increasing'
Leave out paragraph 3.
After paragraph 4 insert new paragraph as follows:
5. Recognises that governments need to take practical actions to reduce the risk of climate change including investing in renewable energy, coastal protection and adaptation, the hydrogen economy and carbon farming.
I thank the honourable member for bringing this important issue to the Legislative Council. The South Australian parliament passed the Climate Change and Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Act in 2007. It contains a target to reduce by 2050 greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 per cent to an amount equal or to less than 40 per cent of 1990 levels.
The South Australian government is taking action on climate change, as evidenced by policy including continuing a net zero emissions target by 2050 and a commitment to a climate change strategy and key initiatives, including renewable energy, a hydrogen strategy and coastal protection, which I will talk about in a little bit more detail.
The Marshall Liberal government is focused on delivering practical environmental outcomes to mitigate climate change and to help South Australians, the economy and the environment adapt to its impacts. The South Australian government is supporting the transition of South Australia's electricity system towards ever-increasing levels of renewables.
We are delivering more climate resilient, ecologically vibrant and liveable places through initiatives such as Green Adelaide and the Greener Neighbourhoods program, investing to secure the future of our coastline and providing climate science and information. The government is also undertaking planning to mitigate risks to people, the environment and the economy as a result of more frequent heatwaves and extreme weather.
The Premier's Climate Change Council has been tasked to work with state government agencies and develop a whole-of-government climate change strategy and a blue carbon strategy for South Australia. These initiatives will identify key opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, store carbon and help South Australia adapt to a changing climate.
Just this week, Premier Steven Marshall released South Australia's Hydrogen Action Plan, including the commitment of $1 million towards a landmark study to identify optimal locations for renewable hydrogen production and export infrastructure. This plan will help us deliver more reliable, more affordable and cleaner energy for our state, as well as bolstering our economy and presenting future job opportunities.
Nowhere else in the world is as well positioned as South Australia to produce, consume and export 100 per cent green hydrogen, which has huge potential to decarbonise significant industry sectors. We have invested $52.4 million to build the resilience of our coastal environments, establish the new Glenthorne National Park, and spent $2 million on the Greener Neighbourhoods program, funding projects to keep our suburban streets cool and green.
We are collaborating with other governments to take global action on climate change. We have endorsed the Asia-Pacific Climate Leaders' Declaration, and South Australia is also a member of the Under2 Coalition steering group that is leading subregional action on climate change at the international level to keep temperature increases below 2° Celsius. South Australia is leading the way on renewable energy to help reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions and to deliver affordable, reliable and secure energy to South Australians.
Around half the energy generated within the state already comes from renewable sources, and this is forecast to grow to around 73 per cent by 2020-21. Further, the government announced a $100 million home battery scheme to support the installation of 40,000 home-based energy storage systems across South Australia. This is in addition to a further 50,000 home storage systems proposed under the Tesla virtual power plant.
We are also developing energy storage initiatives through the $50 million Grid Scale Storage Fund and supporting a range of low-carbon transport and green hydrogen projects. Notwithstanding the state government's demonstrable support for renewable energy, gas generation will continue to play an integral part in our transition to a low-carbon future.
I would also like to add my thanks to those people who have contacted me. I apologise to those who I have not replied to. I am not sure if other honourable members are experiencing this, but our system has been eating emails. Sometimes they go through to a system which means we do not receive them, but they can rest assured that we are aware of these particular concerns and share them. Once again, I thank the Hon. Mark Parnell for placing this motion on the Notice Paper.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL (18:25): In closing the debate, I would like to thank my Greens colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks; the SA-Best representatives, the Hon. Connie Bonaros and the Hon. Frank Pangallo; Advance SA's the Hon. John Darley; and the Hon. Ian Hunter and the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos from the Labor Party for their support. I would also like to thank the Hon. Michelle Lensink for her contribution, but I am disappointed at the position the Liberal Party has taken, as evidenced by the amendments.
What does give me great hope is that, clearly, the numbers on the floor of this chamber tonight will be supporting this motion. I am very confident that they will support the motion unamended. No member has said to me that they will support the Liberal Party amendments. These amendments seek to remove the most important words from this motion. Those words are, 'That this council…Declares that we are facing a climate emergency'. They are the keywords in this motion, and I will not accept their deletion from it.
I am disappointed that the Liberal Party is so scared of having to actually acknowledge that climate change is a climate emergency that they cannot bring themselves to recognise what scientists have been telling us and what activists have been saying and what the world is now recognising, and that is that we are in a climate emergency.
I originally had some more comprehensive comments. I was going to quote from Sir David Attenborough at 93, evidence he gave to the UK parliamentary committee. Other members have referred to his contribution. Of course, I was going to quote at some length from Greta Thunberg, but other members have done that, so I do not need to. I was going to refer to the Prime Minister's observations. Other members have done that.
What I will say is that the Prime Minister said that he believed our children needed to be given 'context and perspective'; they were his two words. It might come as a shock to the Prime Minister that our young people have plenty of both context and perspective. They understand the science, they understand the urgency and they understand that we are facing a climate emergency. Others have spoken about the complaints that all this talk of a climate emergency is creating anxiety. Guess what? There is a solution to anxiety: do something about it.
I am pleased that the Legislative Council is going to support this motion tonight. I will not go through all of the detail. I mentioned the Liberal amendments; it is in three parts. I do not accept any of them, with the exception perhaps of the last part, but it is not part of my motion. If the Liberal government wants to come back with a motion recognising that we need to do more in relation to renewable energy, coast protection, hydrogen economy and carbon farming, bring another motion back and I reckon I will probably support that.
However, that is not in my motion. I want my motion tonight to pass unamended, and I am very pleased that the indications I have received so far are that that is exactly what the Legislative Council is going to do. This is a monumental day in Australian parliaments: the fact that this chamber will today declare that we are facing a climate emergency.
The PRESIDENT: Honourable members, there are three amendments, so I am going to put them in three separate questions. I will give you the three questions and then I will ask them, for the benefit of members since it is late in the day.
The three questions are that the amendment moved by the Minister for Human Services to paragraph 1 be agreed to. I understand from honourable members that that will not be agreed to by the chamber. The second one is that paragraph 3 as proposed to be struck out by the Minister for Human Services stand as part of the motion. Honourable members who want the Hon. Mr Parnell's motion to remain unamended will vote in the affirmative for that. The third question is that the new paragraph 5 as proposed to be inserted by the Minister for Human Services be so inserted. If I understand the will of the council, that will probably not succeed.
So if you are with the Hon. Mr Parnell, you vote no to the first question, yes to the second question and no to the third question. Does any honourable member require—if you are supporting the Hon. Mr Parnell, you vote no, yes, no, because the questions have to be put in the affirmative.
I put the first question that the amendment moved by the Minister for Human Services to paragraph 1 be agreed to.
Question resolved in the negative.
The PRESIDENT: I put the question that paragraph 3 as proposed to be struck out by the Minister for Human Services stand as part of the motion.
Question agreed to.
The PRESIDENT: I put the question that the new paragraph 5 as proposed to be inserted by the Minister for Human Services be so inserted.
Question resolved in the negative.
The PRESIDENT: I put the final question that the motion moved by the Hon. M.C. Parnell be agreed to.
Sitting extended beyond 18:30 on motion of Hon. R.I. Lucas.