Climate scepticism: the time has passed

Is there anything more upsetting than feeling left out?

The world took a historic step towards limiting climate change last week but Australia was sorely missing.

More than 70 countries (representing more than 55 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions) have swiftly and formally committed to the Paris Climate Agreement. This means they’ve promised to do everything possible to limit global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and will try to limit the temperature increase to only 1.5°C.

It’s the most significant step to date towards limiting climate change. The world’s top three emitters, the United States, China, India, are on board, as well as our close neighbours New Zealand.

Yet here at home, we continue to bicker and drag our feet.

Australia’s former environment minister Greg Hunt signed the agreement in April promising to get Parliament’s approval as quickly as possible but Parliamentary committee hearings continue.

Perhaps the biggest hint that we have no time to lose is the speed with which the Paris deal has come into effect.

It took eight years for the Kyoto Protocol to come into force. 

The Paris Agreement does so less than a year after world leaders came up with the plan.

Australia is on the frontline of climate change. The severe storms that recently hit South Australia and other states are a timely reminder.

Without drastic and deep emissions reductions we will face even more severe climate impacts, which could cripple the nation’s major infrastructure and seriously affect our economy and way of life.

The task ahead is huge and the longer we delay, the harder it becomes.

Amanda McKenzie is the chief executive of the Climate Council