GREENS MOTION: Greens win Climate Emergency declaration

Tonight, the Upper House of the South Australian Parliament passed the Greens' motion declaring a Climate Emergency and committed to restoring a safe climate by transforming the economy to zero net emissions.


MOTION

That this council—

1. Recognises that global average temperature, atmospheric greenhouse gases and ocean acidity are already at dangerous levels;

2. Notes that around the world, climate change impacts are already causing loss of life and destroying vital ecosystems;

3. Declares that we are facing a climate emergency; and

4. Commits to restoring a safe climate by transforming the economy to zero net emissions.


In closing the debate, I would like to thank my Greens colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks; the SA-Best representatives, the Hon. Connie Bonaros and the Hon. Frank Pangallo; Advance SA's the Hon. John Darley; and the Hon. Ian Hunter and the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos from the Labor Party for their support. I would also like to thank the Hon. Michelle Lensink for her contribution, but I am disappointed at the position the Liberal Party has taken, as evidenced by the amendments.

What does give me great hope is that, clearly, the numbers on the floor of this chamber tonight will be supporting this motion. I am very confident that they will support the motion unamended. No member has said to me that they will support the Liberal Party amendments. These amendments seek to remove the most important words from this motion. Those words are, 'That this council…Declares that we are facing a climate emergency'. They are the keywords in this motion, and I will not accept their deletion from it.

I am disappointed that the Liberal Party is so scared of having to actually acknowledge that climate change is a climate emergency that they cannot bring themselves to recognise what scientists have been telling us and what activists have been saying and what the world is now recognising, and that is that we are in a climate emergency.

I originally had some more comprehensive comments. I was going to quote from Sir David Attenborough at 93, evidence he gave to the UK parliamentary committee. Other members have referred to his contribution. Of course, I was going to quote at some length from Greta Thunberg, but other members have done that, so I do not need to. I was going to refer to the Prime Minister's observations. Other members have done that.

What I will say is that the Prime Minister said that he believed our children needed to be given 'context and perspective'; they were his two words. It might come as a shock to the Prime Minister that our young people have plenty of both context and perspective. They understand the science, they understand the urgency and they understand that we are facing a climate emergency. Others have spoken about the complaints that all this talk of a climate emergency is creating anxiety. Guess what? There is a solution to anxiety: do something about it.

I am pleased that the Legislative Council is going to support this motion tonight. I will not go through all of the detail. I mentioned the Liberal amendments; it is in three parts. I do not accept any of them, with the exception perhaps of the last part, but it is not part of my motion. If the Liberal government wants to come back with a motion recognising that we need to do more in relation to renewable energy, coast protection, hydrogen economy and carbon farming, bring another motion back and I reckon I will probably support that.

However, that is not in my motion. I want my motion tonight to pass unamended, and I am very pleased that the indications I have received so far are that that is exactly what the Legislative Council is going to do. This is a monumental day in Australian parliaments: the fact that this chamber will today declare that we are facing a climate emergency.

The PRESIDENT: Honourable members, there are three amendments, so I am going to put them in three separate questions. I will give you the three questions and then I will ask them, for the benefit of members since it is late in the day.

The three questions are that the amendment moved by the Minister for Human Services to paragraph 1 be agreed to. I understand from honourable members that that will not be agreed to by the chamber. The second one is that paragraph 3 as proposed to be struck out by the Minister for Human Services stand as part of the motion. Honourable members who want the Hon. Mr Parnell's motion to remain unamended will vote in the affirmative for that. The third question is that the new paragraph 5 as proposed to be inserted by the Minister for Human Services be so inserted. If I understand the will of the council, that will probably not succeed.

So if you are with the Hon. Mr Parnell, you vote no to the first question, yes to the second question and no to the third question. Does any honourable member require—if you are supporting the Hon. Mr Parnell, you vote no, yes, no, because the questions have to be put in the affirmative.

I put the first question that the amendment moved by the Minister for Human Services to paragraph 1 be agreed to.

Question resolved in the negative.

The PRESIDENT: I put the question that paragraph 3 as proposed to be struck out by the Minister for Human Services stand as part of the motion.

Question agreed to.

The PRESIDENT: I put the question that the new paragraph 5 as proposed to be inserted by the Minister for Human Services be so inserted.

Question resolved in the negative.

The PRESIDENT: I put the final question that the motion moved by the Hon. M.C. Parnell be agreed to.

Motion carried.


You can read Mark's speech on introducing the motion here.