Climate change and the Minister’s ‘long bow’

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which has gained so much attention over the last couple of days, was met with a soft response by Environment Minister Melissa Price, which may not be all that surprising given her voting record on climate issues.

Bob Ward’s Opinion piece in The Guardian notes that “the dangers if governments ignore efforts to limit warming to 1.5C are more grave than the summary makes out”. This should be considered in light of the following:

  • the report was prepared by 242 lead authors and 66 review editors from 70 countries, and 436 contributing authors from 54 countries
  • the First Order Draft Expert Review involved 1774 individuals registered as expert reviewers, who provided 19,598 comments
  • the Second Order Draft Expert and Government Review involved 1271 expert reviewers from 67 countries, and 33 governments
  • the Final Government Distribution produced 2350 comments on the Final Draft of the Summary for Policymakers, and involved 241 reviewers from 45 governments
  • at the formal approval meeting, the Summary for Policymakers was approved line-by-line and accepted by the Panel, which has 195 member Governments  (emphasis added)

Minister Price, who was previously a mining industry lawyer, admitted on ABC Radio’s AM program she had not read the whole IPCC report. Nevertheless, she felt the authors had “drawn a long bow” on the need to take more urgent action to replace coal-based energy, and insisted that Australia would meet its Paris targets.

She did not say how the government will meet an economy-wide 26-28 percent reduction in emissions (which it is committed to doing as a signatory to the Paris Treaty), much less how it would address the ambitious target to avoid a 2°C scenario.

Asked about the IPCC’s recommendation that coal be phased out by 2050, Minister Price said: “I just don’t know how you can say by 2050 you are not going to have technology, good clean technology, when it comes to coal. That would be irresponsible of us to commit to that.”

Regrettably, on this issue, our government appears to be committed to policy-based evidence rather than evidence-based policy.



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