COMMENT: Action For Climate Change and InterGenerational Equity:Is Sustainability the Elephant in the Room (Posted 08 February 2023)

One  of  the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is “Climate Action”: A Target for achieving this Sustainable Development Goal is to “Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning…  The aim is to achieve this goal by 2030”: Target 13.2.

The media coverage that followed a protest by a group of climate activists in Brisbane on 01 February focussed more on thegeneral overreach” of government in silencing protesters - rather than on understanding activist concerns:

Whether “we are acting appropriately

or urgently enough on climate change”.

Whilst there may be divided public opinion on rights to protest, there should be no dispute that the activist’s concerns drew attention to serious issues related to action for climate change.

Australia’s new Climate Change Act 2022 came into force on 15 September 2022. GHG emissions are to be reduced  by 43% on 2005 levels by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2050.

But the legislation does not as yet provide a national plan

on how these targets are to be achieved.

Preparing a national plan for a power system requires a systematic and objective evaluation to find the optimum balance between renewables and all feasible and viable climate action option(s).

In the absence of any national plan for action for climate change, climate activist concerns about what the future holds for our children and grandchildren are real and warrant wider conversation.

Their concerns for future generations falls squarely within the environmental science concept of intergenerational equity i.e. ensuring fairness between generations. It is the foundation for sustainable development.

The Paris Agreement imposes a binding obligation requiring all countries emission reductions to be made “on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development”.

Achieving sustainable development

requires its three cornerstones to be evaluated:

Environmental, economic, and social (including cultural) objectives.

To ensure that future risks from climate change to people, economies, and ecosystems are effectively addressed, all objectives must be weighted equally, and balanced fairly - and to not focus inordinately any one objective.

The national plan must lead to a sustainable solution that not only provides affordable energy, but also reliable, and secure energy. To do this, the power system needs to be both predictable and dispatchable.

Without a national plan, today’s emission reduction targets

may prove to be an “illusory promise” -

a promise made which is uncertain, indefinite, vague or impossible to fulfil.

TAGS: Climate change; action; emissions; national plan; illusory promise; Paris Agreement; sustainability; inter-generational equity; protests; activism.

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