Australia is wasting time debating the merits of climate change and should instead focus its attention on responding to the impacts it is having on the country, a senior Liberal minister has warned.
- Karen Andrews wants people to move on from ideological debates about climate change
- The Science Minister says the focus should be on adaptation and mitigation strategies
- She says the science of climate change is settled and is apparent in Australia
Science Minister Karen Andrews said it was time to move on from ideological battles, which she said had robbed the nation of the time and energy needed to respond to climate change.
“Every second that we spend talking about whether or not the climate is changing is a second that we are not spending on looking at adaptation [and] mitigation strategies,” she said.
“It really is time for everyone to move on and look at what we’re going to do.”
Ms Andrews, a former engineer, said the science on climate change was settled.
Her intervention comes in the wake of the Bureau of Meteorology confirming 2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest year on record.
“Let’s not keep having debates about climate change,” the Cabinet minister said.
“Let’s accept that the climate has changed, the climate is changing and we need to look at what we’re going to do about that.”
She denied being critical of her federal Coalition colleagues Craig Kelly and George Christensen, who have been vocal critics of the links between the summer’s bushfires and man-made climate change.
Mr Kelly in a recent interview said climate change had not caused the bushfires — but that unprecedented arson had.
Mr Christensen said in a Facebook post that the cause of the fires was “certainly” man-made, but “it’s just not man-made climate change. It’s man-made arson that, to me, almost borders on terrorism”.
Fire authorities have said only about 1 per cent of the land burnt in NSW this bushfire season can be officially attributed to arson, and it is even less in Victoria.
The backbenchers’ comments have been in contrast to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud, both of whom have acknowledged the links between climate change and bushfires.
In recent days, the Prime Minister has flagged a potential shift in Australia’s climate policies after the deadly bushfire emergencies.
The current policy involves Australia cutting carbon emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2030.
Minister to host discussions with science experts
Ms Andrews said she was confident Energy Minister Angus Taylor would deliver the policies needed to meet the emissions targets.
She will host a roundtable with science experts in Canberra on Wednesday to discuss plans to deal with Australia’s longer and more severe bushfire seasons.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston, while announcing $50 million to help charities provide food vouchers, financial assistance and support services to bushfire-affected Australians, said the Government’s immediate focus was on dealing with bushfires and the recovery.
She said the Government was also committed to helping Australians respond to climate change, particularly the farmers who deal with it on a daily basis.
“I think we need to be addressing the real issues about how we mitigate against climate change and how we build resilience into our community and we have to get on with the job of making sure we address the very real issue before us,” she told the ABC.
“I think the Prime Minister has been very clear about leaning into climate change as a real issue that we need to address as a nation and that we need to address as the world.
“I don’t think this Government is denying that at all.”