Liberal dissent as Parliament declares climate emergency

In a first for any Australian state, the Legislative Council of state parliament has declared a climate emergency in South Australia.

In a first for any Australian state, the Legislative Council of state parliament has declared a climate emergency in South Australia.

Greens MLC Mark Parnell moved the motion on September 11 but the debate was postponed until Wednesday night and passed at 6.30pm.

He said the vote had unanimous support from all non-government parties, but the Liberals tried to amend it by removing the main demand (declaring a climate emergency).

"When the Libs got no support from any other party for their amendments, they gave up and let the motion go through 'on the voices' without calling for a formal vote," he said.

"So, the record won't show that they voted against it, but you and I know."

Supporters of the climate change emergency motion in Parliament after the motion was passed. Picture: Mark Parnell
Supporters of the climate change emergency motion in Parliament after the motion was passed. Picture: Mark Parnell

Mr Parnell thanked those supporters who came along for the vote and watched online.

"Your support really mattered and all MPs referred to the emails and calls they received."

The ACT Legislative Assembly declared a climate emergency in May, moving a motion from ACT Greens Leader and Minister for Climate Change, Shane Rattenbury.

Many local councils are passing similar motions including Adelaide and most recently Burnside, following Adelaide Hills, Gawler and Light Regional councils, with the assistance of former Greens Senator Robert Simms.

As for what this all means, Mr Parnell says the take-home message is that at all levels of government, people are now realising the enormity of the problem and therefore the enormity of the task ahead of us.

"Declaring a climate emergency is the first step to justifying to yourself and your community that urgent action is required," he said.

"For me I think the key thing is that it empowers the community to demand more of governments, because it's a logical consequence - first you declare a climate emergency, then you've got to do something about it."

Mr Parnell said the collective wisdom on treating addiction requires first admitting that there is a problem. And we certainly need to kick the carbon habit to avoid catastrophic global warming.

 

 

 

 

A GLOBAL MOVEMENT

Climate emergency declarations have been made in at least 1039 jurisdictions in 19 countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Portugal, Ireland, Argentina and also a number of major global cities, such as New York.

Across the world, more than 266 million people live within areas where a climate emergency has been declared.

The first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency at the national level was the Welsh parliament on April 29. 

On May 1, 2019, the United Kingdom Labour Party got unanimous support for a non-binding motion in favour of a climate emergency declaration in the House of Commons, claiming Britain thereby was the first country in the world where a bipartisan parliament had declared a climate emergency.

In Australia, the climate emergency declaration mobilisation and petition was launched in May. So far more than 50 jurisdictions representing roughly six million people - over a fifth of the population - have declared a climate emergency.

The campaign goal is for governments to declare a climate emergency and mobilise society-wide resources at sufficient scale and speed to protect civilisation, the economy, people, species, and ecosystems.