Shepparton News

Neither a climate hero nor a climate vandal

- Damian Drum

In a recent opinion piece, a former editor of the Shepparton News, Robert McLean, said I have a choice: I can either be a climate hero or a climate vandal.

But what if I want to be neither?

What if I believe Australia is well on the way to meeting its most recent internatio­nal agreement — the

Paris Agreement — and considerin­g we’re 29 years away, I’m confident we will meet the latest call of having ‘‘net zero’’ emissions by 2050?

What annoys me about the climate change debate is that the arguments put forward by both extremes are as ridiculous as each other.

There are some who refuse to acknowledg­e that we must transition away from coal and gas.

This group is ignoring the science and, as a trading nation, we will be subject to emission-based trade conditions, whether we like it or not.

There are others who want to demonise those who work in the coal and gas sector.

These people don’t care about the price of electricit­y.

They don’t care about reliabilit­y.

They don’t care about China or India’s emissions dwarfing ours.

They are simply hellbent on putting the blame of climate change on everyday Australian­s.

I don’t find either of these approaches credible — just annoying and unhelpful to the overall debate.

But what annoys me even more is the way some Australian­s want to bypass or overlook some facts so they can paint a picture that we are not doing enough.

In 2007, Australia ratified the Kyoto Protocol and we have honoured that agreement by beating our 2020 emissions targets by 459 million tonnes.

In 2015, we signed the Paris Agreement, which requires Australia to reduce our 2005-level emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030.

We are currently 20 per cent below the baseline mark with nine years to go.

Again, we will meet and beat our target and honour our internatio­nal agreement.

If you listen to many commentato­rs, including Mr McLean, you could be forgiven for thinking Australia is not doing enough, but our record on the internatio­nal stage shows we are leaders in renewable energy.

The recent Internatio­nal Energy Agency Global Stocktake report listed the leading countries in terms of rooftop solar PV capacity on a per capita basis.

So how did Australia rate? We lead the world, well ahead of Germany and Japan.

If Australia is leading the world with rooftop solar, why do people want to talk down our achievemen­ts?

Why do people want to paint a picture that we are doing so little?

Australia has met its Kyoto targets, we will smash our Paris obligation­s, and by embracing technology, we will get to net zero by 2050.

We should be proud that Australia is able to lead the world in the uptake of renewable energy.

We continue to outperform countries that have the luxury of falling back on nuclear energy whenever the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing.

That is a luxury we don’t have.

The Australian Government is trying to keep the price of electricit­y as low as possible, trying to ensure we have dispatchab­le power when it’s needed, all the while being a responsibl­e global citizen.

For me, I don’t want to be a hero, nor a vandal, I just want to look after people of the Goulburn Valley now and into the future.

Damian Drum is the Federal Member for Nicholls and was responding to an open letter penned by News columnist Rob McLean.

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