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Motion: Climate Change Conference

8th September 2021 

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

That this council—

  1. Notes the significance of the 'Conference of the Parties' (COP26) UN Conference on Climate Change taking place in November in Glasgow;
  2. Recognises the latest IPCC report confirmed that the world is on track for 1.5ºC of warming; and
  3. Calls on the state government to leverage South Australia's global renewable energy leadership, and Adelaide's ranking as the third most livable city in the world, to petition to host a UN Conference of Parties on climate change, as proposed by Business SA.

The motion I move today deals with a proposal by Business SA for Adelaide to host the Conference of the Parties (COP) climate conference at some time in the future, and that is happening in November in Glasgow.

To give members a little bit of information about this conference, it has only been held in the Southern Hemisphere four times, and the hosting state must be the COP president in order to host, and it would bring approximately 20,000 to 30,000 people to the city of Adelaide. I submit that our state is well positioned to host such a conference, given our natural environment, our commitment to renewables and of course also the impact that climate change will have on South Australia.

We know from the IPCC report that SA will be hard hit by climate change. We are going to see a projected decrease in rainfall, we are going to see an increase in agricultural and ecological droughts, we are going to see an increase in aridity and we are going to see projected increases in marine heatwaves and ocean acidity. These consequences alone mean that we really need to take an interest in the international response to climate change.

There would be an economic benefit for our state and in particular the city of Adelaide in hosting such a conference as well. Indeed, I suspect it is for these reasons that Business SA have been advocating this as part of their charter. I know, of course, that the Liberal Party are very attuned to the feedback of Business SA and that Business SA provides them with significant economic advice. My hope is that they will support this proposal as a sensible way forward and one that will enable our state to strengthen our climate credentials.

Let us consider some of those economic benefits that would flow for South Australia. The conference is estimated to translate into a $135 million boost for the hospitality industry—that is a pre-COVID estimate—and it would inject $200 million into the South Australian economy. That is certainly a significant boost at a time when we know that our state is struggling to deal with the pandemic and the economic consequences that flow from that.

In terms of some of the other reasons South Australia is well placed to host such an event, we know that there has been a lot of work done in terms of boosting renewables, and I recognise that there have been efforts made by all sides of politics in that regard. I acknowledge the work of our colleague in this place the Hon. Ian Hunter as environment minister and that of many others as well who have done a significant amount of work in terms of boosting our capability for renewables.

So we are well placed to host such a conference, but also it would, I think, put pressure on all of us collectively—this parliament—and on the government to do better and to ensure that we are really world leaders in this space. With that, I commend the motion, and I hope that all sides of politics will get behind this and recognise that this is something that could be a major boost to our economy and something that really gives us a chance to cement our reputation as a clean, green state.