by Damian Drum – Federal Member for Nicholls (published in the Herald Sun – September 16, 2021)
I was recently told by a climate change activist from my electorate of Nicholls that I have one of two choices: I can either be a climate hero or a climate vandal.
But what if I want to be neither?
What annoys me about the climate change debate is that the arguments put forward by both extremes are as ridiculous as each other. Zealots on both sides have created a divisive debate that suggests that you’re either with them or against them.
On one side, there are those who refuse to acknowledge that we must transition away from coal and gas. This group is ignoring the science, and as a trading nation, we will be subject to emission-based trade conditions, whether we like it or not.
On the other side, there are those who want to demonise people who work in the coal and gas sector. Those on this side of the debate don’t care about the price of electricity. They don’t care about reliability. They don’t care about China or India’s emissions dwarfing ours. They are simply hellbent of putting the blame of climate change on everyday Australians.
I don’t find either of these approaches credible – just annoying and unhelpful to the overall debate.
But what annoys me even more is the way some Australians want to bypass or overlook some facts so they can paint a picture that we are not doing enough.
Australia is well on the way to meeting its most recent international agreement – the Paris Agreement – and considering we’re 29 years away, I’m confident we will meet the latest call of having “net zero” emissions by 2050?
In 2007, Australia ratified the Kyoto Protocol and we honoured that agreement by beating our 2020 emissions targets by 459 million tonnes.
In 2015, we signed the Paris Agreement, which requires Australia to reduce our 2005-level emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030.
We are currently 20 per cent below the baseline mark with nine years to go. Again, we will meet and beat our target and honour our international agreement.
If you listen to many commentators, you could be forgiven for thinking Australia is not doing enough, but our record on the international stage shows we are leaders in renewable energy.
The recent International Energy Agency Global Stocktake report listed the leading countries in terms of rooftop solar PV capacity on a per capita basis.
So how did Australia rate? We lead the world, well ahead of Germany and Japan.
If Australia is leading the world with rooftop solar, why do people want to talk down our achievements? Why do people want to paint a picture that we are doing so little?
Australia has met its Kyoto targets, we will smash our Paris obligations, and by embracing technology, we will get to net zero by 2050.
We should be proud that Australia is able to lead the world in the uptake of renewable energy.
We continue to outperform counties that have the luxury of falling back on nuclear energy whenever the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing. That is a luxury we don’t have.
The Australian Government is trying to keep the price of electricity as low as possible, trying to ensure we have dispatchable power when it’s needed, all the while being a responsible global citizen.
For me, I don’t want to be a hero, nor a vandal, I just want to ensure we have an approach that balances the undeniable need to act on climate change while ensuring the needs of industry and the impact on household budgets are not upended.