EXCLUSIVE: Climate Talk (Part 3) – Tim Clifford On Climate Emergency

CLICK HERE to watch Climate Talk (Part 3)

As we conclude part three of our Climate Interview Series, I spoke with Greens MLC and climate spokesperson Tim Clifford, who is pushing for the State government to declare a climate emergency.

We began discussing world events being documented at the hands of climate change; the Amazon fire, glaciers melting, drought and erosion in our own backyard, to name a few.

Mr Clifford said he is concerned there hasn’t been any form of an emergency declaration in WA, when there are other jurisdictions acknowledging the emergency crisis.

“It’s a mistake for the State and Federal governments to ignore the calls from the community to do something, because as you’ve seen across the world the movement is getting bigger and bigger, and it’s not going to stop…”

“It’s going to keep getting bigger so they won’t be able to ignore it,” he stated.

The first step is acknowledgement, followed by discussions about solutions, and looking at our own industries and what role they are playing in the global climate crisis.

While Australia’s contributions to global emissions sits at only 1.4%, the perception is that’s relatively small. However Jacinda Ardern New Zealand Prime Ministers recently said if we all took that mindset nothing would get done.

Australia’s responsibility in terms of exported emissions accounts for 5%, which is projected to increase to 17% by 2030.

Mr Clifford commented this is huge considering Australia only makes 0.003% of the world’s population.

“I think we need to look at acknowledging WA as more than just an oil and gas state – we’re iron ore, gold, lithium, so many other resources that we can benefit from going forward,”

“In terms of exporting emissions, the indirect cost of not doing anything about climate change is going to far outweigh whatever benefits we get from the oil and gas industry,”

“We have a huge responsibility in the exporting of emissions, and if we support these industries we’re playing a direct role in not only what goes on in the Pacific for example, but also in other parts of the world,” he said.

So will this have a flow on effect if we don’t address it now?

We will be left behind in a lot of ways, particularly renewable energies.

Mr Clifford explained we could be world leaders in renewable energy technologies, but we don’t want to be in a situation where we’re a state/country with stranded fossil fuel assets.

The Government repealing majority of the carbon tax package affected Australia in how we could have taken advantage of it.

Not only could we have already reduced our emissions and shifted towards new industries that encourage new local jobs, we’d also be in a position where coal fired power stations are retired; making us ahead of the game.

“Right now we’ve got different parts of the political landscape working against each other…”

“We need to take fossil fuel money out of politics, limiting their donations to any of the parties, so they’re not being influenced, and look at expanding into renewable technologies,” Mr Clifford said.

So what about climate deniers and the very obvious gap between younger and older generations?

Tim believes we have to acknowledge that a certain generation went through the industrial age, but that’s not necessarily to say they’re to blame.

There was a layer of misinformation shared through different companies who were doing the wrong thing with no social contracts, enabling them to lobby politicians hard and spend big on advertising to make sure no one did anything about the issue of burning fossil fuels.

“You can point the blame to the corporations, but I think we need to bridge a divide within the community. I wish the government and the opposition would be in the same boat…”

He continued: “Some people will deny climate change is real no matter what you say to them, it’s more about personal opinions but here are the facts,”

“I’m more interested in people understanding that it is a real issue that needs to be dealt with,” he said.

While this is a particularly sensitive issue for some, and enraging for others, Mr Clifford thinks there has been a lack of conversations surrounding climate inaction.

He said since he’s been elected, people with other political affiliations have spoken to him saying there needs to be something done.

We’re seeing a lot of bad news being distributed which really affects people, but with the more people recognising these things are happening, the more people want something to be done about it.

“Of course there are a lot of talking heads that just want to put their own agendas across,  but what we’re seeing in the climate movement is that there are people going ‘okay I don’t want to be the person that just shares a post on social media, instead I’m going to take part in a climate strike, or visit my local MP or be engaged with what’s going on in my community”  he said.

To finish I asked Mr Clifford if he thinks we could reduce our emissions significantly enough to make a difference?

He has hopes the community movements will keep building, to a point where we all hold the government to account to put policies in place to address it.

“Renewable energy is here to stay, but we have to acknowledge what role we are doing globally in regards to the negative effects of climate change,”

“Our social responsibility in addressing our emissions is at a high, and I believe we can do something about it,” Mr Clifford stated.

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