A call for leadership on climate change

The National Civil Society Dialogue includes representatives of organisations employing 880,000 workers, representing millions of Australians and comprising around 8% of the Australian economy.

Though diverse in our interests, we are united in our conviction that we must not allow catastrophic climate change to be the legacy handed down to future generations. We must ensure all Australians benefit from an ambitious, effective and fair transition to a globally competitive low-carbon economy.

The Government must now build upon its leadership in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and planning the carbon pollution reduction scheme. We can protect our environment, foster jobs and innovation, and play our part in achieving an effective global climate agreement.

We will oppose with determination and vigour any policy, domestic or international, that would result in the devastation of Australia’s national icons, such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, the Daintree, Ningaloo, and the Murray-Darling basin. We acknowledge that low-income and disadvantaged households will be worst affected by climate change impacts, including bushfire, reduced water supply, and public health risks.

International climate negotiations offer us our best and last chance to avoid catastrophic climate change. But we will not be a credible participant unless we demonstrate our ability and willingness to achieve ambitious reductions in our own pollution levels.

We therefore urge your Government to:

  1. Commit Australia to a goal of preventing global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. As you noted in the 2007 election debate, if we exceed this level “we place the planet in grave danger of not being able to correct itself.” Accordingly, Australia’s priority goal should be global stabilisation of CO2-e concentrations below 450ppm. That goal should be reviewed if climate science informs us that lower concentrations are necessary;
  2. Base our engagement in international negotiations on Australia’s willingness to play our fair and proportionate part in an effective global agreement to achieve this outcome. This will require appropriate carbon pollution reduction targets and dedicated and ongoing funding for developing country mitigation and adaptation;
  3. Set the pollution cap for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme at a level that is consistent with stabilising CO2-e concentrations below 450ppm, and commit to reducing pollution further with the agreement of other developed nations;
  4. Ensure that Australia’s response to climate change includes measures to allow households and vulnerable communities to reduce energy use, adapt to higher energy prices, and adopt sustainable lifestyles. Such measures should be funded with 40 to 50% of the revenue from the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme;
  5. Significantly increase investment in energy efficiency and sustainable technologies, and in building the resilience of our communities, community organisations, and natural systems to the challenges of climate change;
  6. Work together constructively with business, unions and civil society, to unlock the substantial economic and job opportunities in tackling climate change and moving to a clean, safe economy.
  7. Commit to practical solidarity with affected communities around the globe, by contributing a fair share to adaptation funds and accepting peoples displaced by climate change.

Signed by the organisers of the National Civil Society Dialogue on behalf of the Dialogue as a whole, in accordance with the general acclamation of the meeting on 15 September 2008:

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