17 August 2010 – The Greens have called for Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard to improve their five per cent emission reduction targets after the release of an Australian Academy of Sciences report detailing comprehensive evidence of climate change.

The release of the “Science of Climate Change” report comes as Prime Minister Gillard failed to mention climate change in her campaign launch speech yesterday.

The report details a comprehensive assessment of climate change, including:

  • What is climate change? – The role of greenhouse gasses in determining climate and causing climate change.
  • How has the Earth’s climate changed in the distant/recent past? – The stability in the Earth’s climate for the last 8000 years until the Industrial Revolution.
  • Are human activities causing climate change? The increase in greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere as a result of human activity and its role in causing global warming.
  • How do we expect to evolve in the future? Continued increases in greenhouse gas levels are expected to lead to significant warming through the 21st century.
  • What are the consequences of climate change? How changes to rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and warmer ocean temperatures will affect Australian farming, fishing and tourism.
  • How do we deal with the uncertainty in the science? There is a high degree of confidence in the broad conclusions of climate science.

Current Greens policy states that Australia should aim to “achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as is feasible and by no later than 2050 with a minimum of 40 per cent reduction on 1990 levels by 2020.”

Greens deputy leader Senator Christine Milne said that the report outlines scientific evidence of climate change and called upon both parties to lift their emissions targets.

“The Academy of Sciences report released today outlines settled science and confirms what the natural world is already telling us,” said Ms Milne.

“This report should put paid to any suggestion by the ALP or Coalition that they take the science seriously. If they did, they would leave their 5% target far behind them and start planning for zero emissions.

“Delay and denial on the climate crisis is simply unacceptable in the light of ever clearer scientific evidence.”

“Both Labor and the Coalition must lift their sights to science-based emissions reduction targets, support the Greens’ call for an immediate effective carbon price, protect our forest carbon stores and start planning for a complete transformation to zero emissions.

“The Greens are on the side of scientists and economists who say that deep cuts in emissions and urgent action are the right scientific and economic response. Denial and delay are more expensive in human and dollar figures than the strong early action that the Greens propose.

“Whose side are Labor and the Coalition on?”