- by Anna Pha
- The Guardian
- Issue #2025
Ocean Shore, Northern East coast, NSW. His side of the road was completely under – fleeing to higher ground, and a friendly neighbour.
La Niña event is under way for the third year in a row according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The Pacific, including Australia, can expect more floods. Meanwhile, farmers and communities along the east coast of Australia are still left in limbo, waiting for assistance to recover from the most recent flooding.
“A third consecutive La Niña is likely to bring above average rainfall on an already saturated east coast, spelling tough times ahead for many Australians,” Dr Simon Bradshaw, the Climate Council’s Director of Research, warned.
“Helping vulnerable communities build their resilience to, and ability to recover from, worsening flood disasters must be a top priority for state and federal governments, and will help minimise the dangers and devastation of yet another La Niña event.
“This should include urgent implementation of the 80 recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, and the NSW Flood Inquiry.
“Governments should also provide certainty to flood-affected residents on their eligibility for home buyback or land swap schemes, to assist families who are forced or chose to move due to extreme weather and the impacts of climate change,” Bradshaw said.
The NSW Floods Inquiry put the losses to agriculture at more than $500 million, the loss of infrastructure at $2.7 billion, with 7,731 people in emergency accommodation, 5,3103 homes uninhabitable and 14,637 damaged. (Report released on 29th July 2022)
Six months on from the devastating floods, healthcare services in Lismore have not been fully restored. Thousands of people remain in limbo, unable to resettle after losing their homes or to re-establish their businesses. Farmers are bracing themselves, already having lost crops and machinery. Governments and planning authorities have a responsibility to act.
Some health practitioners suffered losses of more than $500,000 but could only access government grants of $50,000, falling pitifully short of what is needed. In addition, obtaining a grant is not easy. Applicants must spend the money prior to approval. Too bad if they do not have the money to pay upfront.
The lack of health care services has seen many people turn to Lismore Base Hospital for GP services.
A summit on 16th September of groups including the Australian Medical Association and the NSW Rural Doctors Network, demanded immediate cash relief to restore healthcare services in the Northern Rivers region. The summit also called for health services to be categorised as essential services so they can secure fast financial relief after disasters such as floods or bushfires.
A TARGET IS NOT A PLAN
Labor’s climate change legislation sets a target of at least forty-three per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050. It is a target.
The Climate Change Authority will monitor Australia’s progress against Labor’s targets and inform the setting of future targets, including Australia’s next target under the Paris Agreement, for 2035. The Minister for Climate Change will report annually to Parliament on Australia’s progress towards these targets and bodies such as Infrastructure Australia and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation will be required to adhere to guidelines when approving projects.
Forty-three per cent falls far short of what the science dictates. There is nothing specific in terms of concrete actions that would result in a reduction of emissions. Far steeper reductions are required, especially in the years to 2030 which, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are critical. If Australia does meet that target it will be largely because of the states and territories.
The legislation would have been even weaker if it were not for the amendments gained by the Greens and “teal” independents.
The science tells us that climate change is driven by the burning of coal, oil, and gas which increases the risk of extreme rainfall and flooding.
“Australia currently has seventy-two new coal projects and forty-four new gas and oil projects under development, and several new gas basins – including the Beetaloo and Canning gas basins – where development is being actively supported by governments, including through large government subsidies.” (The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program (TAI))
The planned new gas and coal projects in Australia would result in almost 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2e emissions annually – equivalent to building over 200 new coal power stations. “These projects would more than double Australia’s gas and coal production. Australia is already the largest coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in the world.” (TAI)
Writing an inadequate target into law does not prescribe the necessary measures to achieve that target, let alone what is required in line with the science.
Australia requires strong laws to underpin a just transition to meet a net zero emission target by 2030 or at the very latest 2035. Anything less is abdicating Australia’s global responsibilities and putting the planet at risk. There is no Planet B.
“Any form of capitalism is fundamentally incapable of overcoming the climate crisis as its very nature is dependent on constant growth and expansion of markets, demand for profits, and exploitation of nature’s resources.” (Dr Hannah Middleton, Fighting for the Future)
“It is impossible to reverse the momentum towards environmental disaster without economic planning. The dictates of the profit motive and imperialist competition to corner resources and secure markets prevent any rational planning for the good of common humanity.
“A planned economy which has eliminated the private profit motive has the maximum potential for solving environmental problems.”
It’s called socialism.