Sunday, February 14, 2010

Transition Decade brings a shared plan for climate action

More than 1000 people at today's launch of the Transition Decade at the Melbourne Town Hall were called on to share a ten-year plan for emergency action to deliver a safe climate.

The packed three-hour program offered too many strong climate messages to easily summarise, beginning with Victorian Governor, Professor David De Kretser A.C., who called on the audience to value the contributions of sceptics, before noting that the climate evidence was now such that an actuary who failed to recommend climate action would be deemed irresponsible.

The ANU's Professor Will Steffen later elaborated with the idea of the 'honest sceptic' - not those who fail to acknowledge the evidence of climate change, but scientists within the process of scientific inquiry who already and routinely challenge their own findings.

In the face of recent controversies, Professor Steffen said that there was no problem with the science, that the IPCC's most recent report was a 'vastly reliable piece of work', and that the last decade revealed no slow-down or stoppage in the global warming trend. It remained 'very likely' (more than 90% probable) that anthropogenic greenhouse gases were the primary cause of warming since the mid-20th Century.

'As we accumulate knowledge, the risks are higher at lower temperatures,' Professor Steffen concluded, noting 'a lot of concern that the EU 2-degree "guardrail" is inadequate'.

Urging political support for an interim carbon price, Senator Christine Milne called on climate campaigners to 'build again the momentum that has stalled after Copenhagen', and not to tolerate political powers who stood in our way in moving from 'what is' to 'what can be'.

There was, of course, much much more, on which I will write later - the Beyond Zero Emissions Plan for Stationary Energy, the new Climate Emergency Network Strategy, Safe Climate Australia's Scientific Imperatives Project, and an inspirational and hopeful Cam Walker calling for more in the account of our 'progress' than the movement of money in the empty quest for endless growth and consumption.

After the climate nihilism of Copenhagen, and the denialist backlash via controversies over small errors falsely spun into climate doubt, and after the forlorn Australian tour of Christopher Monckton, this was a much-needed antidote.

The contrast with Monckton's recent anti-climate-change rant at the Hotel Sofitel couldn't have been clearer. Here was a broad-based message drawn together from no single political perspective or interest. The messages were clear, and hopeful. There were children in the hall. There was a sense of what is possible, not of grasping to keep what has been gained at the expense of so many others.

As Senator Milne said, we are global citizens before we are Australians, Victorians, or people of Melbourne. That's a transition we all must make, and now we have a plan.

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