By Mike Ritchie, MRA Consulting Group
All political commentary on the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), coal and climate change should come with a warning and a declaration on whether the author is a climate change sceptic or not.
It is obviously easier to fixate on electricity prices now, if you have no compunction or don’t care about the effects of climate change on the future. It is easier to double down on building coal fired power stations if you don’t believe they have an effect on global warming.
Balancing the two legitimate competing interests, cheap electricity from burning coal now, versus climate change resulting from that burning in the future, is more difficult.
Some Australian politicians still argue that carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas and has no effect on global climate. That climate change is a myth perpetrated by greenie lefties. These statements should come with a warning “These opinions are not based on science and are a risk to your children and our future economy”.
My declaration – I am not a climate sceptic. I understand most of the science and respect the scientists who produce it.
I also expect a modern economy to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We need to take action on climate change now whilst reducing electricity costs as much as possible during the transition. A modern economy also is capable of factoring in perceived future risks.
The reality is that climate change is with us now and its impacts are being felt now. Just ask any farmer or barrier reef tourism operator.
There is not a credible scientific agency anywhere in Australia, or the world, that disputes the reality of climate change nor the trajectory. The only thing being debated now is the speed of change. And most models have, if anything, underestimated the rate of change.
To back up these statements here are just a few facts from credible independent scientific agencies:
Seventeen of the 18 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2001, with the exception of 1998. The year 2016 ranks as the warmest on record .
- July 2018 was Australia’s second-warmest July on record for daytime temperature .
- July 2018 was Australia’s driest July since 2002, with rainfall half the average.
- Rainfall deficiencies have increased in extent and severity “for almost all of NSW, inland southern Queensland, northern Victoria”.
- For the Murray-Darling Basin rainfall was about a third the norm. NSW had just over a fifth and Queensland 30 per cent the normal rain.
The Effects of Climate Change on GDP by Country and the Global Economic Gains from Complying with the Paris Climate Accord (CSIRO, Melbourne University and ANU research) :
- A failure to achieve the Paris Agreement that would lead to a 4oC temperature rise would cost Australia more than $100 billion a year.
- Warming not being limited to two degrees would cost each Australian household $14,000 a year in the long term.
- The global economic gains from complying with the Paris Agreement 2oC target (RCP 4.5), are US$17,489 billion per year.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Department of Commerce
- 2017 was one of three warmest years on record .
- 2017 was the warmest non-El Niño year in the instrumental record .
- June 2018 was 5th warmest on record for the globe .
- In 2017 the Arctic saw the smallest winter sea ice coverage on record .
- State of the Climate in 2017 report including the following references to Australia :
- In 2017 Australia experienced its third warmest year since national records began in 1910.
- Seven of Australia’s ten warmest years on record have occurred since 2005.
- Unprecedented Multiyear Coral Bleaching: spanned 36 months from June 2014 through May 2017.
These are real issues requiring real solutions from credible politicians and decision-makers. It is time that the Australian body politic stepped up and addressed the most serious threat to our economy and environment.
And for the media to give more voice to the scientists over the sceptics unless their comments come with a warning.
As always, I welcome your feedback on this, or any other topic on ‘The Tipping Point’.
This article has been published by the following media outlets:
 https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1029/2018EF000922 (report published by the American Geophysical Union)
 https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/state-climate-highlights/2017 (Published in full by the Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society https://www.ametsoc.net/sotc2017/SoC2017_ExecSumm.pdf)