Our thanks to La Trobe University and Prof. Robert Manne for allowing us to record and produce this episode. Thanks to Reece Gray, Climactic editor, for production.
Recorced at the National Gallery of Victoria, September 17th 2019.
The Ideas and Society Program, convened by Professor Robert Manne, is a forum for discussion about the future of Australia and beyond. In 2019 we are hosting a series of discussions regarding some of the most fundamental and polarising issues Australians now face, either between those with fundamentally different points of view or between those with similar points of view but different ideas about strategy and tactics. Our next event is taking place three days before one of the most challenging political events of 2019--the climate change school student strike.
Climate change is regarded by many scientists, policymakers and citizens as the gravest problem humankind has ever faced. Unless fossil fuels are replaced by renewable sources of energy in the next decade or so, future generations will face a ruinous post-industrial revolution rise in global temperature of 3 degree Celsius or something even higher.
Climate change is also an almost uniquely difficult problem. The Paris ambition to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees relies upon a level of international co-operation never before achieved. If humankind fails to take the action now required the consequences will be irreversible. It is no hyperbole to say that the future of the Earth lies in our hands.
What happens in Australia matters greatly. If our domestic energy consumption and our exports of coal, oil and gas are taken into account, we are responsible for 5% of global carbon pollution. Climate Analytics has calculated that if all the fossil fuel developments now proposed were to proceed, Australia would be responsible for a staggering 13% of worldwide carbon emissions.
For those fighting for the radical changes required, climate change poses a daunting political challenge. According to the conventional interpretation, in the recent federal election those Queensland Coalition candidates cheering on the Adani coal mine polled unusually well. In the short term at least, the anti-Adani protest march failed to sway local public opinion.
Climate change is a generational problem. Older Australians took up the struggle. The lives of younger Australians will be shaped by the impact of climate change.
The Ideas and Society Program has brought together, for this reason, front line fighters across the generations to reflect on recent experience and debate future strategy.
The former leader of the Greens, Bob Brown, is the revered father of the Australian environmental movement.
David Ritter is the leader in Australia and the Pacific of the pioneering world-wide environmental movement, Greenpeace.
Dr Amanda Cahill, a Queensland grassroots analyst and activist, is the founder and chief executive of The Next Economy.
Maiysha Moin is a leader in Victoria of one of the most hopeful recent climate change developments, the school strike movement that is taking action on September 20.
This debate will be introduced by La Trobe University's Vice President (Strategy and Development), Natalie MacDonald, and moderated by La Trobe University’s Director of the Centre for the Study of the Inland, Professor Katie Holmes.