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Emissions Reduction Objectives

12 September 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:18): I rise on behalf of the Greens in support of this bill. I think it is important to reflect, in talking on this bill, on the impact of the climate crisis on our state and, indeed, our planet. This is a crisis that is already negatively impacting all aspects of modern life, contributing to the destruction of ecosystems, biodiversity and human societies through sea level rises, extreme weather events, changing weather patterns and posing a significant threat to food security, water, the economy, social cohesion and the wellbeing of humans and all other things on this planet, and these impacts will only get worse in the months and years ahead.

We often reflect on the huge disruption that we have seen in our society as a result of COVID, between 2020 and 2022 in particular, but that was really the curtain-raiser for the climate crisis. That really is the tip of the iceberg when one considers the huge disruption that will flow to our economies and to our societies if we do not address the climate crisis. We need to transform Australia into a greenhouse powerhouse, a greenhouse-gas-negative powerhouse, that creates new jobs and a cleaner planet.

Australia and South Australia's climate policy must be consistent with our commitment under the Paris Agreement to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Multiple independent analyses show that the Earth's average surface temperature has already warmed by about 1.1° Celsius since the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1850. That is a significant amount. A nationwide systemic response is required to drastically reduce emissions from all sectors, including the energy sector, draw down greenhouse gases and be greenhouse gas neutral or negative by 2035.

Australia has the capacity to ensure that all our energy needs can be provided by renewable sources. I know that the emissions reduction targets in South Australia, as set by the Malinauskas government, are 50 per cent by 2030, from 2005 levels, and net zero emissions by 2050. This is a start but it just is not enough. We know we need to cut our emissions by 75 per cent by 2030, based on 2005 levels, and reach net zero by 2035, and that is what the Greens have been pushing for in Canberra and, of course, here in this place.

I will say, though, it is a relief to me, and I am sure to many Australians who care about the future of our planet, that we are finally seeing some movement on the climate crisis after the years of the Morrison, Abbott and Turnbull governments—the failed governments in Canberra. It is appropriate, I think, for me to reference the Morrison government's climate record, and I want to refer in particular to a report from the Climate Council on a catastrophic failure, 'The Lost Years: Counting the costs of climate inaction in Australia'. This report from the Climate Council, issued in 2022, found that the federal Liberal-National government has overwhelmingly failed on climate action over its three terms of government.

The report contained a national poll of 1,299 Australians, conducted by the Climate Council, and it showed that, on average, Australians rated the Morrison government's performance on climate change and its response to worsening extreme weather events as three out of 10. I think that is actually generous, based on what they did—the complete failure of leadership we saw from that government. One in four (26 per cent) surveyed rated the Morrison government as zero for doing absolutely nothing at all. Among 18 to 25 year olds, the average score was 1.5. Of the 1,299 surveyed, no segment (by age, voting preference or location) rated the government as more than 4.8 out of 10. How pathetic.

That is because the Australian people figured out the Morrison government. They got them right, they dispatched them at the ballot box and they recognised that this was a party being dominated by fossil fuels and by fossil fools: people who were not watching the climate science, people who were completely out of touch with mainstream opinion and the need to address the climate crisis. So whilst it is disappointing that we are not going far enough in our response to this climate catastrophe, at least we are finally seeing some movement, and I certainly welcome that.

I do want to express some alarm, though, at the Labor Party's obsession with gas in South Australia. I am not surprised: some in the Labor Party do love their hot air—they do enjoy a bit of hot air. Their obsession with gas is disappointing, because what we need to do is end gas connections for new homes by 2025, as the Greens have been calling for.

They are talking a lot about green hydrogen, and I am interested in learning more about that, interested in learning more about their plans, but the reality is that we simply cannot have an approach to tackling the climate crisis in our state that is based on natural gas being propped up and propping up the natural gas industry. The Labor Party does need to do better. That said, I welcome this legislation as some movement in the right direction. The Greens will continue to push for 75 per cent reductions. That is what the people of our state want, that is what is necessary for getting this climate crisis under control.