Scott Morrison will be part of Joe Biden’s virtual summit next week, where he’s expected to explain why he’s ignored climate change.
Next week, Joe Biden will host a virtual summit on the climate crisis. Interestingly, Scott Morrison is one of the forty world leaders who received an invite.
Australia’s Ambassador to the United States Arthur Sinodinos told Nine that the Biden administration believed climate action was a “politically fraught issue” for Australia, but the Morrison government could “use that fact as a chance to explain why we’ve taken the approach we have to climate change and why policies such as carbon pricing and carbon taxation have fallen by the wayside”.
One of the world’s foremost climatologists, PennState University’s Michael E Mann, took it further, stating that the summit won’t be “fooled by the smoke and mirrors the Morrison government appears to be employing to distract from their clear record of inaction on climate”.
Indeed, Mann is “sceptical that the Morrison government, which sees itself as a cheerleader for fossil fuel interests rather than a champion of its citizens, can ever engage meaningfully on climate”.
Movement on the climate is well overdue. According to an Australian think-tank, the crossover point for climate change will be here by 2050, writing that the “extremely serious outcomes” have been ignored because they “fall outside the human experience of the last thousand years.”
The Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration describes our current climate change status as dire, writing that “planetary and human systems reaching a ‘point of no return’ by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order.”
According to the paper, our current trajectory will see a rise of three degrees Celsius. This would accelerate the collapse of key ecosystems “including coral reef systems, the Amazon rainforest and in the Arctic.”
The results of that would be devastating. One billion people would have to relocate from their now unliveable location, and two billion would face scarcity of water supplies. Agriculture would collapse in the sub-tropics, and food production would suffer dramatically worldwide.
“Even for 2°C of warming, more than a billion people may need to be relocated and in high-end scenarios, the scale of destruction is beyond our capacity to model with a high likelihood of human civilisation coming to an end,” the report notes.
The paper is authored by the think-tank’s research director David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, a former senior executive of Royal Dutch Shell who previously chaired the Australian Coal Association.
Spratt and Dunlop’s 2050 scenario illustrates how inaction will see us stumble blindly into a world changed, and an end met.
“A high-end 2050 scenario finds a world in social breakdown and outright chaos,” said Spratt. “But a short window of opportunity exists for an emergency, global mobilisation of resources, in which the logistical and planning experiences of the national security sector could play a valuable role.”
In 2019, Spratt and Dunlop wrote an op-ed for The Guardian offering a solution to our problems, proposing “a major scenario-planning initiative for Australia. Scenario-planning does not forecast, predict or express preferences for the future; rather it is storytelling, painting pictures of alternative worlds that might emerge, to assist policymakers in imagining and thinking about future possibilities. The strategy is then assessed against each possible future.
“One of the initial tasks is to identify the official future – the future as it is supposed to be, upon which prevailing strategy is based. A large amount of political capital is tied up in that view, typically the result of group-think generated by ideology or by business models that have stood the test of time but may be inappropriate in the future.
“Scenario-planning explores the future, allowing constructive discussion on alternatives incorporating the full range of credible evidence. In particular, there must be a preparedness to think beyond conventional wisdom, after which a reassessment of the official future is often inevitable, and proactively undertaken.
“Nowhere is this more necessary than in Australia, the continent most exposed to climate change, where the official future for the last two decades has been, and remains, climate denial and delay.”