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November 2015: the critical month for climate change decisions

Malcolm Turnbull will be making one of the most fundamental decisions as prime minister when he attends the climate talks in Paris at the end of November.

It is encouraging that Turnbull himself, his deputy Julie Bishop, and Environment minister Greg Hunt, will all be going to Paris. It is time that Australia regained some stature on the world stage, and leadership on this vital issue.

It is significant that the Australian Academy of Science has just announced that it has divested from its investments in fossil fuels. In an address in Hobart on 28 October its President, Andrew Holmes, said:

Earlier this year, the Academy made a strong representation to the government on the issue of greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. We have argued that Australia must aim to be carbon neutral by the middle of this century, and an important step along that process would be to reduce our emissions by 30% to 40% by 2030, compared to 2000 levels.

I am heartened that the government is listening to the scientific community and has progressed the work of emissions reductions in Australia. I look forward to hearing of more progress in that respect, under the leadership of the new Prime Minister.

The issues of fossil fuels, emissions reduction, and climate change are inextricable. The dubious arguments about the future of coal mining in Australia from both the federal and Queensland governments are disturbing: ‘If we don’t sell it someone else will’, is a morally bereft stance. The claims about the number jobs new coal mines would create have been hotly debated, and do not take into account jobs that could be created in more sustainable industries. 

This affects us all, from the most prosperous to the most vulnerable. Below are links to a number of papers which are relevant to the climate talks, including pleas from the Pacific Island nations, and, at home, from the traditional owners of the land earmarked for the proposed Carmichael Mine. 

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