Taking a stand on climate change

20 February 2020

Early this month, 270 scientists signed an open letter to Australia’s leaders demanding climate action. This comprised of a wide range of ANU academics, including Professor Robert Costanza from ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, and Hilary Charlesworth from ANU School of Regulation and Global Governance, who have taken this stand as a matter of fact and principle.

Eighty one Australian Research Council Laureates took a stand requesting the drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the driving force behind global warming.

“If strong action is not taken, environmental degradation and social disruption will be much greater and in many cases adaptation will no longer be achievable” the Laureates warn.

Professor Costanza said:

“I've been working in the area of environmental and climate policy for much of my career.  The bushfire crisis over the summer is an obvious manifestation that should wake people up to the growing urgency of the problem. When Rachel Deans emailed me and asked if I would sign this open letter to our leaders, I didn’t hesitate. It is a matter of national and global urgency that we act now.”

Professor Costanza’s latest post on the Crawford Policy Forum focuses on the terrible air quality issue Canberrans have faced in recent months.

His position is clear:

“The root cause of the current climate crisis is the fossil fuel industry… Despite their past benefits, the costs to climate stability of continuing to burn fossil fuels now clearly outweigh the benefits. Renewables are now cheaper, even with the massive subsidies we still give to fossil fuels. 

For the sustainable wellbeing of society we need to urgently speed up the transition to renewables.  It is not a sacrifice of jobs and economic security to urgently make this transition.  It is a sacrifice of all of our futures not to.  The current bushfire crisis is only the latest manifestation of the magnitude of the costs of not making the transition.

The main thing holding us back is the stranglehold the fossil fuel industry has on politics in Australia and many other countries. Globally, 100 companies are responsible for 71% of carbon emissions. Subsidies to fossil fuels globally were estimated to top $5.2 Trillion in 2017 and fossil fuel money is pouring into disinformation, lobbying, and political campaigns around the world… We owe it to ourselves, our children, and the planet we all depend on to support us (to act now)…”

The open letter was also featured in an article by ABC News.






Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team