By Monique La Terra
2015 – Looking back.
When the National Resources Defence Council released its Global Report Card it came as no surprise that Australia received a big fat F and a slap on the wrist for scaling ‘back plans to reduce carbon pollution and cut funding to renewable energy.’ Sadly, it wasn’t the only test we failed in.
Every two years Yale University releases what Environment Minister Greg Hunt describes as ‘the most credible, scientifically based’ study. The 2016 Environmental Performance Index dropped Australia 10 places from its last report, placing us in 13th position out of 180 nations. We received a perfect score in the water and sanitation category and a score of 96.13 for air quality, but were ranked 150th in the climate and energy category.
Our ranking on the Climate Change Performance Index for 2016 was even worse. With an embarrassing total score of 36.56 Australia placed third last with only Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia scoring worse. At the top of the list was Denmark with a score of 71.19.
These global assessments have strongly indicated that Australia needs to implement serious tactics to combat climate change, but two months into 2016 it seems the sting of embarrassment is yet to sink in.
2016 – Are we moving forward?
In early February news broke that the Climate Change Research Centre would be making up to 350 positions redundant from its climate research, modeling, oceans and atmosphere and land and water divisions.
In a statement, the World Climate Research Program said, ‘Australia will ﬁnd itself isolated from the community of nations and researchers devoting serious attention to climate change.’
CEO Larry Marshall pointed out that CSIRO’s ‘climate models are among the best in the world’ and have been used ‘to prove global climate change,’ but the fact is that climate change is an ever-changing, immediate threat and constant monitoring is needed, but with the recent cuts CSIRO has rendered Australia helpless in risk assessment.
So why the cut? Larry Marshall put it down to innovation. In the letter sent out to staff he said ‘we must pick and choose where to prioritise. This means as we focus on new areas we must stop other areas.’
This statement and other points mentioned in the letter to staff has baffled thousands of scientists worldwide. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA have reported that 2015 was the hottest year on record. This is clearly not that time to cut research, instead CSIRO need to be monitoring rising land and ocean temperatures.
And while cuts have been made to beneficial programs, Australia’s big four banks have been handing out financial loans to fund filthy fossil fuel projects including Maules Creek mine, Abbott Point and the Galilee Basin.
The Commonwealth, ANZ, Westpac and NAB have seemingly forgotten about the statements they each gave regarding the move away from coal and gas in order to meet the 2C target. According to a Market Forces study since 2008 the major four banks have loaned $36.7 billion to the industry, with $5.5 billion contributed in 2015.
We can pray and cross all extremities in the hope that our government and corporate head honchos will see the light and embrace the opportunities brought by the renewable energy sector, but if the first two months of the year are anything to go by then expect our leaders to turn a blind eye.