One of the greatest challenges facing us as legislators in this Parliament is the looming crisis of climate change. Each of us has a duty to accept the overwhelming consensus on climate change and to work together to take real and immediate action.
The fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states:
Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent ... emissions of green-house gases are the highest in history ... Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that we need to act now and act radically to reduce global emissions, our political culture remains logjammed over how and even whether to respond. The failure of politicians to act on climate change puts us at odds with the Australian community—and indeed the global community—who see the way forward and the urgency of the need for action but are being let down time and again.
This has never been clearer to me than when I met with young students attending the climate change rallies in Sydney from Marrickville West Public School, Dulwich Hill High School of Visual Arts and Design, Canterbury Girls High School and other schools across my electorate.
Their message was clear: Even though they were too young to be part of our electoral process—too young to vote—they wanted their voices to be heard and for their future to matter to those our communities elect. They know that our failure to act will cost them dearly. Indeed, they had the greatest stake in the elections that have just passed.
I was proud to stand with those students and to support their calls for urgent action. I was also proud to tell them about Labor's bold policies on climate change, both at Federal and State level. Labor's plan marked the most ambitious agenda on climate change and the environment ever put forward to the people of New South Wales by a party seeking to form government.
It included setting ambitious renewable energy targets of 50 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2050; putting households at the forefront of action on climate change by helping to install an extra 500,000 solar panels on rooftops across this State, bringing the total number to over one million households; delivering seven gigawatts of renewable energy through large-scale wind and solar projects by 2030; introducing a climate change Act and establishing a new State-owned and run renewable energy company; and bringing experts together at a climate summit.
Labor wants to drought-proof and future-proof New South Wales by holding a commission of inquiry into the Barwon-Darling river system, incorporating urban water sensitive design into our planning laws, protecting our urban rivers, investing in cycleways, doubling funding to Landcare, fighting plastic pollution and planting six million trees by 2030—an ambitious agenda.
It is a bold and genuine attempt to combat climate change and to deliver a healthier and cleaner planet than the one we inherited. That is what those students were talking to me about. Their message is clear and remains strong despite the recent electoral results. I acknowledge those who helped shape that agenda.
I acknowledge the extraordinary work of the Hon. Penny Sharpe and the Hon. Adam Searle, the advocacy of the Labor Environment Action Network and the work of local groups in my electorate such as the Mudcrabs—the Cooks River Valley Association—the Addison Road Community Centre and the Cooks River Valley Alliance.
I know electoral fortune has not favoured those on this side of the House recently. I am sure there will be considerable analysis and debate as to why that it is the case, but it would be foolish to dismiss those results as a judgement on climate science or a rejection of a bold policy agenda to protect our planet for future generations.
Those opposite need look no further than the broad swings against them in city seats like Warringah. We have a real opportunity in this place to break the political deadlock on climate change in this State and in this country. We need to deliver real leadership for our kids so they can trust us to deliver the action that they can be proud of.