WA urges Australia to aim higher on climate change

The senate inquiry into the government’s direct action plan on climate change is on at the moment.  The first hearing was held in Perth with local Oxfam supporters amongst 27 other groups calling for greater action.

There has been no rain in Perth for more than two months; the onslaught of heat has been relentless. In these baking conditions Oxfam and 27 other humanitarian, environmental, community and faith-based groups gathered outside the first Senate inquiry hearing in Perth charged with investigating the effectiveness of the government’s plans on climate change.

Some of us were there to save the dying coral reefs; some to save WA’s drying and dying south west forests; some to slow the mounting bush-fire risk; some were concerned about heatwaves and health;  some about the lack of water in our dams and protecting our farms. And some like Oxfam were focussing on the international hunger and poverty exacerbated by climate change. However, while we had different issues, we all stood behind a banner addressing the central problem and asking the government to ‘Aim Higher on Climate’.

A hot world is a hungry world as small scale producers struggle to grow a crop and this year food and climate change will play a big part of Oxfam’s work. More extreme weather events, unreliable seasons, rising seas destroying aquifers and the spread of tropical diseases such as malaria are some of our concerns.  Just as concerning, is the lack of action by world governments, and particularly Australia.

While many governments are moving forward on climate change issues, the Australian government has gone the other way; cutting funds from the  Australian Renewable Energy Agency;  shutting down the Climate Commission and attempting to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the Climate Change Authority. Together these bodies provide a vital source of information to the community and much needed funding to increase investment in renewable energy projects.

On top of this there are also plans to take away the price on carbon and cut back on funding to help developing countries to adapt to changing conditions.

The inquiry will focus on the impact of some of these policy changes and the key issue of Australia’s target to reduce green house gases from by as low as 5% to 20% by 2020 as opposed to the 40% cuts scientists are advocating to stop climate change, if we’re to make a fair share towards global efforts to keep warming below 2C.

With nine of the last ten years being the hottest ever on record, it must surely be just a matter of time before Australian and world leaders take significant action. Our goal is to make sure this action happens sooner rather than later, to reduce the impact on poor communities and stop dangerous levels of climate change. Your voice will be important in helping us achieve our goal.

The Senate inquiry will finish on the 24th of March 2014. Click here to find out what you can do go to.