MEDIA RELEASE for July 11, 2017
Peak state environment group Queensland Conservation Council has strongly welcomed the Palaszczuk government’s release of its Climate Transition Strategy and Climate Adaptation Strategy plans. These documents are designed to lay out a pathway for Queensland to become a ‘net zero emissions’ state, and to prepare Queensland for the impacts of global warming that is already locked in and more that has been projected.
The Climate Transition Strategy includes a target of Queensland becoming carbon neutral by 2050, the already released commitment of 50% renewable energy in Queensland by 2030, and the foreshadowing of building up programs for carbon farming into the future, as well as highlighting the climate change impacts of current land clearing rates. The plan focuses on “early measures” that the state can move on while the national climate policy situation remains a mess.
Overnight, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has called for “strong climate action” to protect world heritage around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef. The work on state level climate policy has been championed by the State Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles, who has highlighted that fundamentally, Queensland needs strong national action on climate change by the Federal government. Unless or until that is forthcoming, Queensland has its own plans and will work with other like-minded state jurisdictions to seek to reduce emissions, switch to renewable energy, and transition their economies.
While the Queensland Conservation Council sees the Climate Transition Strategy as an important move forwards largely consistent with its own recommendations, and is congratulating the Minister on his efforts, the peak conservation body has also highlighted some important missing elements to the Plan. These include a commitment to legislate both carbon neutral and renewable energy targets, much of the details for how the plan will be implemented, and any acknowledgement of the current reliance on coal and gas as carbon intensive fuels.
“We strongly welcome the release of the Queensland Climate Transition Strategy and Climate Adaptation Strategy plans as an important step forward on state action on climate change”, said Queensland Conservation Council head Dr Tim Seelig.
“Queensland is a high carbon emissions state, and needs to take responsibility for this and to act accordingly to be part of effective action on reducing the extent of climate change.
“Adaptation to climate change, and rapid far reaching work to seek to limit the amount of it, need to be core priorities for Queensland, and the state has a key role to play and along with strong national action.
“While the Federal government bickers and dithers with itself, and even argues about the reality of climate change, our natural environments and our communities are suffering from the effects of global warming such as more intense cyclones, coral bleaching and hotter and drier days in key parts of the state.
“The release of these strategies shows that Queensland won’t just sit around waiting for national leadership and action – it will start to get on with the job itself.
“Turning the Sunshine State into the Sun-Powered State, getting to a carbon neutral scenario as fast as possible, reducing government’s own carbon footprint, and boosting our carbon farming opportunities are all critical.
“We also need to see a state-level bipartisan approach to accepting the causes of and contributions to climate change, and the responses to it. We call on the Nichols LNP Opposition to support action on climate change, and to get behind these Queensland plans.
“However, the fact that there are no direct references made in the strategy to coal/gas fired power or to coal mining or gas extraction and their impacts on the climate is disappointing.
“This ought to be the opportunity for the Palaszczuk government and the Nichols Opposition to acknowledge all of the major domestic carbon emission problems we face, and to recognise the work Queensland needs to do to achieve true economic and social transition to a low carbon future.
“The reality is that more coal mines, more coal-fired power stations, and an over-reliance on gas as a ‘transition fuel’ just won’t cut it if we are to get real about reducing emissions and growing the Queensland economy sustainably into the future.
“Today is significant, but it’s just the start of the official carbon transitions journey for Queensland. We look forward to working with the conservation sector and government to help fill in the details of how truly effective carbon action can be achieved, including the far energy, economy and community transformations necessary.”
Queensland Conservation Council has been a member of the Queensland Climate Adaptation Strategy stakeholder process, and is also part of the Sun-Powered Queensland Alliance which seeks the achievement of 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible. The group’s submission to the government’s 2016 discussion paper on climate action can be downloaded from: http://www.queenslandconservation.org.au/advancing_climate_action_in_queensland
For further comment contact:
Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183