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Speech: It's time for climate justice

The world is cooking, and the Morrison government is sitting on its hands: no targets, no plan and no action. While nature may not have intended to discriminate, geopolitical boundaries that divide the world into the Global South and the Global North make sure that patterns of systemic discrimination continue, as the impacts of climate change, natural disasters and pollution fall disproportionately on communities in low-income nations. The insatiable appetite of wealthy nations like Australia for digging up and burning coal, oil and gas is sealing an unpalatable fate for billions of people around the world. We are witnesses to an intergenerational and global theft that will deprive future generations of the opportunity to make a dignified life and where countries least responsible for the climate crisis are already living through the worst of it.

Pacific islanders are watching their homes and their homelands sink as their very existence is threatened by sea-level rise, flooding and coastal erosion. Their children and grandchildren will bear the brunt of Australia's inaction. They've urged the Morrison government to take urgent action on climate. They have pleaded with us. They have condemned us for our weak and unambitious targets. They are demanding we honour the global climate accord.

In 2009, during the Copenhagen Accord, wealthy nations committed to US$100 billion in international climate finance funding each year, by 2030, but they have fallen far short of this. They have failed the nations which they have used as dumping grounds for their greenhouse gas emissions.

Australia too has failed to pay our fair share of climate finance and reparations commensurate with our historical and ongoing contribution to the climate crisis. The Liberal-National government have not made a single payment to the Green Climate Fund since 2018. Today, a group of NGOs have called on Australia to rise to the challenge and immediately double climate finance contributions to $3 billion over the period from 2020 to 2025. That's the very least we can do. The Greens believe that we should add another $1.5 billion to this in direct reparations for the damage already done.

The inequality between the Global North and South is rooted in the exploitative, extractive and destructive legacy of colonialism and imperialism. This is an issue of global justice. It is about righting historic wrongs. These payments are not favours bestowed, they are debts owed.

The Morrison government is not at all interested in honouring commitments to the Green Climate Fund or paying its fair share of climate finance. Australia is dead last on climate action out of 193 UN member countries. It is so embarrassing, sad and heartbreaking to see that we have become such laggards on climate action and protecting the environment. When the world was debating solutions to climate change, the Liberals were still fighting over whether it exists. Now we are in a critical decade and the world has moved on to talking about 2030 targets, but the Liberals and Nationals are fighting over 2050.

Public poll after poll reveals how the vast majority of people living in Australia want real action on climate. Even that is not enough to wake up the Liberals from their climate stupor. But they are getting better at greenwashing, like their partners, the News Corp media. They're both trying to rewrite history with their miserable commitments on the one hand, while still pushing dirty coal, oil and gas on the other. Here's a newsflash for you: no-one has forgotten that News Corp and the Liberals and Nationals blocked climate action for decades.

It's time to stop digging up coal, gas and oil. It's time to stop handing millions of dollars of public money over to billionaires, hoping they will save us from the climate crisis. This is utter stupidity. It's time to aim high, to legislate a 75 per cent emissions cut by 2030 and net zero by 2035. It's way beyond time to take responsibility for the role that we have played in creating the climate crisis. We must fulfil our obligations. We must pay our fair share. Let's go to Glasgow COP26 with our heads held high as leaders, not as outliers. It's time for climate justice.


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