The dynamics of climate change migration

The inevitably increasing impacts of climate change on the poorer countries of the world will lead to a large affected population over the coming centuries, with estimates ranging from 200 million to 1 billion. The countries of Asia are predicted to be particularly hard hit. Without urgent action in the coming decades by the rich world (who have created the climate crisis) to proactively plan for this mass migration, the likely outcome is that most displaced people will end up in camps either in their own countries or in other countries that struggle to accommodate their presence, but are not able for one reason or another to prevent their arrival. Many will undoubtedly perish.

Breaking the cycle of short term politics

The big loser in the recent election is not the ALP, it is our grandchildren. Electoral success based on populist short term policies act as a brake on action to address the long term challenges the country faces. This success is not a function (purely) of Bill Shorten’s unpopularity, it arises because of the ignorance and / or denial of a (small) majority of voters about the nature and importance of those long term challenges and the urgency required to deal with them. The only way to overcome this is to engage citizens themselves in the development of policy options through an independent commission advised by the best minds in the country.

Why emissions reductions are urgent

It is not well understood how difficult it will be to avoid the worst effects of climate change if we delay emissions reductions. Many think, erroneously, that achieving peak emissions in 2030 will have the same consequences as if they peak now. This is essentially a failure to understand that the impacts of climate change are a consequence of the accumulation of atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases not emissions per year. The longer that emissions continue to increase, the longer that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will increase. Even if we eliminated all emissions today, CO2 concentrations will remain high for millennia (Clark et al. 2016).

Time to focus on climate policy, not energy policy

Australia’s emissions are set to far exceed our Paris accords target. Yet our national discourse is around ‘secure and reliable’ energy rather than a proper review of climate policy, setting up the likelihood of a weak response to both. The government must be brought to account on the reality of climate change and the urgency of climate policy. If there are climate deniers / doubters in the cabinet room, make them speak up, so their opinions can be challenged by the science, not hidden under the fig leaf of secure and reliable energy policy.