On October 7, the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a sobering report on a 1.5°C hotter planet.

At heart the report indicated that the amount of coal and other fossil fuel that humans can burn before things turn ugly is small… very small indeed. In fact, if we continue doing business as usual, the planet is likely to reach 1.5°C of warming between 2030 and 2052.

2030? That’s 12 twelve years away.

This takes us to David Bowie and his 1972 masterpiece, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The first track on that album is of course “Five Years”. Not only because we are being told that the end of the planet is right here… not on the horizon but right in front of us, but because of the lyrical content.

News had just come over
We had five years left to cry in
News guy wept and told us
Earth was really dying

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour
Drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine
Don’t think you knew you were in this song

Smiling and waving is exactly how our government has responded. Our Prime Minister is onto his 4thmilk shake and it looks like he is very close to taking a long languid nap in his hammock.

PM Scott Morrison, noted in respect of the report’s conclusions, that “We are not held to any of them at all, and nor are we bound to go and tip money into that big climate fund.”

“But at the end of the day we want to ensure that electricity prices are lower,” boasted Morrison. This sort of response is chilling. Particularly in light of the fact that Australia’s COposition is at its highest level since 2011.

The IPCC report notes that Australia’s commitment to reducing emissions by 28% from 2005 levels by 2030 should be closer to 45% and that we should be entirely divested of fossil fuels by 2050.

Such action must include a strict timeline for phasing out the production, export and domestic use of thermal coal for energy production in Australia; and developing renewable energy technologies, such as large-scale battery storage and solar thermal, to replace the need for coal fired power. Providing large subsidies for the installation of rooftop solar and domestic battery storage, to ensure that homes and businesses aren’t as reliant on the grid for their energy needs, should also be a priority.

VAHPA condemns the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government and specifically, Minister for ‘Environment’ Melissa Price, for its continued insistence of rejecting serious action on climate change and drumming up fear around “high energy prices” as a consequence of such action. VAHPA also rejects the government’s claim that there is such a thing as “clean coal”.

In calling for more drastic action to curb energy emissions; those who work in the coal industry, as well as the communities that rely on this industry can’t be ignored either. Retraining as well as generous redundancy and retirement packages should be put on the table to help these workers and their communities transition, as well as retooling old energy infrastructure into either clean energy infrastructure or clean industry and manufacturing of renewable energy components.

To not take the drastic action needed to reduce human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, causing the average global temperature to rise by 2°C from the baseline, will have dire consequences for humanity and for all life on our delicate planet.

Check out the IPCC report: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/