THE SAFE CLIMATE DECLARATION

A NEW APPROACH
TO CLIMATE ACTION

ADVANCING AUSTRALIA’S CLIMATE EMERGENCY TRANSITION

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SIGNATORIES
& COUNTING


SIGN ON
A CALL FOR AUSTRALIA

THE SAFE CLIMATE
DECLARATION

INITIATED AT THE NATIONAL CLIMATE EMERGENCY SUMMIT 2020

This Declaration calls for a new approach to climate action in Australia, a response to match the scale of the threat as climate-warming impacts escalate across Australia and around the world.

CLIMATE IMPACT

Australia’s 2019-20 megafires are a harbinger of life and death on a hotter Earth. The climate is already dangerous — in Australia and the Antarctic, in Asia and the Pacific — right around the world. The Earth is unacceptably too hot now.

The impacts of climate disruption are more severe than previously projected. At 1.5°C warming relative to pre-industrial levels, now likely only a decade away, the Great Barrier Reef will be lost, sea levels will be heading for a rise of many metres, and tipping points will be at hand for Greenland, and for the Amazon and other carbon stores.

The current Paris Agreement emission reduction commitments, if implemented, are a path to 3.5°C warming by 2100, possibly earlier. This could increase to 4–5°C when long-term climate-system feedbacks are considered.  National security analysts warn that 3°C may result in “outright social chaos”, and 4°C is considered incompatible with the maintenance of human civilisation.

Leading scientists warn of a “Hot House Earth” scenario, a planetary threshold that may exist at a temperature rise as low as 2°C, in which further warming becomes self-sustaining. The challenge now is to return to a safe climate by cooling the Earth whilst avoiding tipping points which may initiate further warming.

This requires an emergency response, where climate is a primary concern of leadership at all levels.



FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP

Influential global leaders including political, corporate, media and financial leaders have deliberately refused to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change and its risks, using predatory delay to prolong an unsustainable economic system. Driven by perverse short-term incentives and lacking the imagination to understand the implications, they have placed humanity in extreme jeopardy.

Many of Australia’s leaders are particularly culpable, having done everything possible over the last three decades to prevent the development of serious climate change policy, internationally and domestically, and to protect the fossil fuel industry. Notwithstanding the fact that Australia is the world’s fourth largest carbon polluter, exports included, and one of the countries most exposed to climate change.

The first duty of a government is to protect the people, their well-being and livelihoods. Instead, Australian governments have left the community largely unprepared for the disasters now unfolding, and for the extensive changes required to maintain a cohesive society as climate change impacts escalate.



STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY

In framing solutions to the climate emergency, a stronger democracy is needed, not weaker. The rights of citizens need to be protected to ensure that people are treated with respect, and treated fairly.

Climate change and its solutions will have profound implications for Australia – its peoples and its lands and waters. It is therefore critical to achieve and secure truly meaningful processes that empower indigenous voices, leadership and knowledge.



ADDRESSING THE CLIMATE THREAT

Australians collectively have a duty of care to protect people, nature and civilisation, both locally and globally. Calls to contribute to solutions to the climate threat need to be fair, taking account of people’s capacity.

Climate change is a global problem requiring unprecedented levels of global cooperation. It obviously cannot be solved by Australian acting alone, but Australia must be fully committed to such cooperation.

Priorities for action include:

  • Cutting greenhouse gas emissions rapidly to zero. All fossil fuel expansion to be stopped immediately; policies which encourage fossil fuel use halted and subsidies removed; and the existing industry wound down rapidly with adjustment programmes for frontline communities. Strategies to minimise methane emissions need to be implemented urgently.
  • Drawing down atmospheric carbon concentrations to a safe level from the current 413 ppm level through actions that include redesigning agricultural and forestry practices and implementing extensive soil, estuarine and ocean carbon sequestration.
  • Working to prevent tipping points and damage while the zero emission and drawdown goals are being achieved.
  • Integrating adaptation and resilience measures into the economic restructuring needed to restore a safe climate and repair ecosystems.

Early action is essential. The prevalent idea of a gradual transition to net zero emissions by 2050 is not tenable. A far faster transition is required, using measures appropriate to an existential threat.

Climate change must be accepted as an overriding threat to national and human security, with the response being the highest priority at national and global levels.


INITIATING SIGNATORIES

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Kerryn

Phelps

“Climate change is a human health issue that is going to have a dramatic effect on our health care system.“
HEALTH & ADVOCACY

Kerryn Phelps


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John

Hewson

“Declaring a climate emergency in Australia almost goes without saying. Climate was an emergency some 30 years ago.”
POLITICS & ECONOMICS

John Hewson


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Peter

Garrett

“If we fail to act now, Australians will be hostage to external and increasingly unpredictable events of an order of magnitude and seriousness of threat most reasonably compared to war.”
POLITICS & SOCIAL CHANGE

Peter Garrett


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Carmen

Lawrence

“We must focus on those things people really care about – themselves, their health, their family, their community – and what will happen if they don’t act.”
SOCIAL CHANGE & RESEARCH

Carmen Lawrence


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Ian

Dunlop

“Addressing existential risk is a fundamentally different level of response from anything that is being contemplated at the present time.“
STRATEGY & BUSINESS

Ian Dunlop


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Tim

Costello

“For those of us who work in the humanitarian sector, climate change does have a face. It is a child with no food to eat during a violent storm.”
ADVOCACY & SOCIAL JUSTICE

Tim Costello


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Greg

Mullins

“I’d like to see Labor, the coalition government, Greens and the crossbenchers all come together and declare a climate emergency.“
RISK & POLICY

Greg Mullins


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CALL TO ACTION FOR AUSTRALIA

It is in Australia’s self-interest to demand far greater global action on climate change, and to lead by acting itself. It makes no sense to build our economy on fossil fuel resources, practices and technologies which are unsustainable, particularly when Australia has some of the best clean energy resources and opportunities in the world.

This requires leadership which understands the challenge and the opportunities, and is totally committed to accelerating the emergency transition to a safe climate economy. This will not happen with leaders who do not even accept climate change as a priority.

The signatories to this Declaration call on all Australians to join with them in building leadership that embraces the need for such emergency action.

In particular, we will:

  • Emphasise the importance of a non-partisan approach that embraces people of all political parties and sectors of society who are committed to science-based policies that make climate a first priority of government and of the community;
  • Emphasise the value of a non-partisan government of national unity on climate;
  • Hold current political leaders to account if they fail to protect the Australian people;
  • Take action to empower Indigenous voices and leadership;
  • Take action to strengthen democracy and citizen rights;
  • Give priority to engaging with the business community to build understanding of the real nature of the risks and the pace of change required;
  • Work to mobilise and connect all sectors of civil society to make a powerful contribution;
  • Work to reinvigorate public administration and governance skilled and willing to drive the political and economic transition;
  • Advocate tirelessly in public to build understanding and community capacity to drive change;
  • Support the formation of a specialist taskforce to set out a road map for Australia’s emergency transition to restore a safe climate.

SIGN ON

Endorse The Safe Climate Declaration and join the call for Australia’s climate emergency transition.

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