IPCC REPORT: AUSTRALIA UNPREPARED FOR CLIMATE IMPACTS AHEAD

Sydney, 28 February 2022: The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a grim and frightening picture of the serious climate impacts that face Australia and the Pacific, which Greenpeace Australia Pacific says must spur much deeper, faster emissions reduction.

The report focuses on climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, laying out in sobering detail how severe the impacts of climate change already are for Australia and the Pacific, with these impacts projected to escalate with every bit of further warming, leading to millions of lost livelihoods, ecosystems and lives.

Dr Alex-Edney Browne, Greenpeace Australia Pacific head of research and investigations, and one of the only Australian civil society observers to the IPCC report approval process, says that Australia is woefully unprepared for the climate impacts threatening the region and must significantly scale up its climate response.

“This report makes it clear that dire climate impacts are here, accelerating, and becoming more severe, and must be a spur to bolder and faster emissions reduction. With the survival of millions of lives, ecosystems and species on the line in our region, on a scale never before seen, there is no time to waste. We must rapidly phase out coal and gas over the next few years to give Australia and the Pacific, our home, a chance of surviving the climate crisis.

“Climate change is already hurting Australia and the Pacific, and it will get worse. Scientists have now concluded that we face greater climate risks at lower global warming levels than assessed before, with the very survival of vulnerable ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef, and the future safety of Pacific peoples under threat much sooner than previously thought.

“Every fraction of a degree of warming makes a crucial difference.The quicker we can exit fossil fuels, the more climate damage we can avoid. While the IPCC warns that some climate impacts in our region that will occur at below 1.5 degrees of warming are now likely locked in, we cannot give up. 1.5 degrees is a critical threshold that we must not overshoot. We have all the solutions we need to tackle the climate crisis and reduce emissions, right now. They must be deployed with utmost speed and urgency, and backed by climate policy that reflects the scale of the challenge we face,” she said.

David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said the devastating regional climate impacts detailed in the IPCC report are a savage indictment of the Morrison Government’s abject failure to rise to the climate challenge and protect Australians.

“The Morrison Government has the weakest climate policy in the developed world, and the failure of politicians to act has put us all in danger. Australia’s politicians have led the world in bullshit and excuse-making, while allowing the coal and gas industries to run rampant, driving dangerous climate change. 

“No more talking rubbish. No more spin. Our political leaders must now make a genuine commitment to emissions reduction at emergency speed. Anything less is failing all Australians and betraying our neighbours in the Pacific.

“Australia has a chance to lead the world, to take care of all our citizens and to be a great friend to our neighbours in the Pacific – but all this is being squandered.

“The spin, delay and denial of Australia’s politicians means that the country is not prepared for the climate damage that is now upon us, and we are already paying the price for our leaders’ climate failure in lost livelihoods, disappearing wildlifes and the suffering and death of human beings. Every Australian is at risk from the disasters brought by severe climate damage and the consequences for our Pacific Island neighbours are existential.

“The climate threat has now reached a point where we must realistically and honestly plan for a national climate safety net to protect people so that no one is left behind, alongside harder and faster emissions reduction.

“A plan for climate resilient communities must consider all possible scenarios of warming, taking particular care for the most vulnerable, so that no Australian is abandoned to climate disaster.” 

ENDS

READ GREENPEACE’S BRIEFING ON IMPACTS FOR AUSTRALIA AND THE PACIFIC

For more information or to arrange an interview contact Fiona Ivits on 0487 003 872 or [email protected] or Maddison Bates-Willis on 0401 244 296 or [email protected]

Photos and videos of Greenpeace’s Great Barrier Reef underwater photo shoot, giant beach sand writing message to protect the Reef and press conference with Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter, James Cook University researcher Dr Jodie Rummer and Whitsundays dive operator Tony Fontes click here