I begin by acknowledging traditional owners and pay my respects to Elders, past, present and emerging.
I am incredibly glad to be here to launch the Climate of the Nation Report 2020 and I thank the Australia Institute for making sure the voices of everyday Australians are heard.
Now more than ever we are in need of evidence based policy and thought leadership. The Australia Institute continues to lead the way on both fronts playing a vital role in building a stronger, fairer and more sustainable Nation.
I also want to thank the many Australians who gave their time to participate in this important piece of research.
They are representative of the Australians I was elected to serve.
Generous, hardworking and caring people who love their country.
People who choked on the smoke from the summer’s bushfires and worried about the future.
People desperate to see our economy recover, but want to ensure that we build back better and stronger.
They are the forgotten people.
They are mums and dads in the suburbs.
They are business owners installing solar panels to cut their electricity bills.
They are tradies who see an abundance of work in building renewables and maintaining renewable assets.
They are from all professions and all walks of life.
They don’t hold elected office. They don’t march down George Street. They don’t have a platform on sky news.
They are ordinary decent Australians who just want to go about their business and for their Governments to get on with solving the issues of the day.
They are the mainstream, and their voices need to be heard when decisions are made about the energy they use and the world they’ll leave their children.
The findings of the Climate of the Nation Report 2020 should put an end to the pointless, backward-looking arguments about taking action on climate change.
80% of Australians think we are already experiencing the impact of climate change, and they are right.
82% of Australians are concerned that climate change will result in more bushfires - exactly the sort of events that scientists have been warning us about for decades.
83% of Australians support an orderly transition from coal-fired power stations to renewables.
And 71% of Australians can see past the noise generated by the powerful and the populists to see that Australia can - and should -become a world leader in finding solutions to climate change.
They don’t want Australia to be spectators in the greatest technological transformation of our time. They want us to lead.
Australians are, in my experience, hard-headed, pragmatic people.
They know the rest of the world is moving on climate change.
Today, more than half the world’s GDP is created in jurisdictions that have signed up to deliver net zero emissions by 2050.
Together with Japan’s announcement this week, 60% of Australia’s two way trade is now with countries who will soon be looking for cleaner alternatives to power their economy.
Ignoring the reality of climate change is not just a risk to our natural environment, it is a risk to our living standards, to our jobs and our entire way of life.
If that evidence is not enough to convince you on the need to take action, even big oil and gas companies who have profited from extracting fossil fuels for decades are planning for life beyond carbon, moving to decarbonise their businesses.
In February this year that organisation not known for its green left credentials BP announced its target of net zero by 2050. It launched a plan to build 50 GW of renewables by 2030.
That’s renewable investment in infrastructure on an unprecedented scale, and that’s not happening in the far-distant future, it’s happening now.
They are not doing this because they are climate alarmists. They are doing it because they are capitalists and want to ensure that they remain a going concern as the world changes.
As this report shows, Australians see the change, we understand it, and we want to make sure that we reap the opportunities created for new jobs and investment.
And we don’t want to find ourselves on the wrong side of megatrends like rising carbon-based protectionism while other economies steal our march in new clean technologies and industries.
The quantitative survey for this report was conducted in July and the qualitative research in September – smack bang in the middle of our fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
This should be a final rebuke to the cynical view that concern about climate change was a good-times issue, which people would drop when times got tough, because these are the amongst toughest times our country has ever faced.
COVID-19 has up-ended financial markets, stalled investment, increased unemployment and driven some sectors of the economy close to the brink.
We should be using this recovery to build a low carbon economy.
We should be using this recovery drive a sustainable stimulus.
We should be using this recovery to build our country back better.
Not just because it’s good for the environment but because it’s good for the State, the country, and it’s the kind of economy our kids will prosper from.
Australians are sick and tired of the petty political point scoring and division on climate policy which has held our country back for over a decade. They want Government to lead. They want to be assured that we are doing everything we can to reduce the risk of dangerous climate change, whilst keeping the lights on and keeping a lid on their electricity bills.
They want us working on solutions to create jobs and ensure no community is left behind.
This report is a wake up call from Australia to remind all of us that they want their governments to get on with the job of protecting the environment and building a better future for all of us to enjoy.