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Humanities Code Red and the Green Revolution Report By Anneliese Alexander of We Are Hughes

On 6th August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 7th report on the progress humanity is making in relation to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on the climate. While some still debate the human influence of rising global average temperatures, the latest IPCC report unequivocally landed human activity as the root of the problem and gave its strongest “Code Red” possible - If we do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions rapidly in the coming 10 years, we will destabilise the climate with devastating consequences for all life on earth.

We Are Hughes has conducted hundreds of conversations with constituents over the last 12 months. A prevailing issue of concern remains the government’s inaction on addressing the climate crisis. Climate change, global warming, renewable energy, bush fires, water security and a national EV policy have been raised in one way or another at every Kitchen Table conversation and Community Conversation event hosted by WAH. Considering this and the latest IPCC report, We Are Hughes sought the expertise of nationally and internationally acclaimed experts on the IPCC and the Green Revolution.

Our event, Humanity’s Code Red and the Green Revolution invited Professor Tim Flannery to break open the IPCC report. The message is clear. Scientists from governments all over the world analysed thousands of scientific papers to conclude that the warming of the planet is caused by human activity, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, and that we have limited time to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for energy or face dire consequences. Professor Tim Flannery reminded us that warming creates more warming as feedback loops are triggered, causing “runaway global warming”. Some of these feedback loops have either already been triggered or are close to being triggered. The shimmer of light remains that we can stabilise global temperatures by rapid decarbonisation in the coming decade. Professor Flannery’s prevailing message was “MUST ACT NOW. CUT THOSE EMISSIONS.”

It can be easy considering the IPCC report to feel despondent, so it is important to seek those who know what is shifting in response to the crisis. Tim Buckley and Dr Gabrielle Kuiper both work for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and have their finger on the pulse of the economic influences shifting governments and markets towards decarbonisation. Tim Buckley spoke of trillions of dollars moving in the market, pressuring carbon intensive industries to change their modus operandi. Governments are also investing heavily in decarbonising their energy markets and this includes in Asia with Japan, Korea, India and China making pledges and moves to decarbonise. Tim Buckley noted China’s announcement that it will half emissions from steel production by 2030 as a positive sign towards a net zero economy, and a move that Australia should heed (Australia provides China with Metallurgical coal, used for Steel production). Tim Buckley’s prevailing message was that “coal is already being replaced.”

Dr Gabrielle Kuiper specialises in distributed energy, including solar, wind and batteries, and focussed on electrifying Australia. One of the ways to reduce emissions is to ensure that everything can be done with electricity created by renewable means. Australians have the highest per capital uptake of rooftop solar and are leading the way in renewable energy in the national energy market. Tasmania, South Australia already have a high distribution of renewables in their grids, with New South Wales and Queensland to follow up in the coming years with Renewable Energy Zones to replace coal fired power. Production of renewable energy leads to dramatic changes in the way we think about energy, including how to take advantage of the flush of energy at certain times of day. Battery storage and EV charging are one way that was discussed that would change how we manage our energy. Dr Kuiper’s prevailing message was that Australia could be a “renewable energy superpower.”

All panellists felt that the global financial system has moved beyond procrastination and that there is enough momentum to make rapid decarbonisation possible in the coming decade. Professor Flannery commented that it is possible to turn this around, and that “we will do it, there is hope.”

Thank you to the three esteemed panellists for their time speaking to us. All 70+ attendees agreed that they felt more hopeful and more informed from the event. We also hope it has inspired our attendees to consider how they can best make an impact, particularly by voting for climate friendly candidates at all levels of government.

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