PUBLISHED11 Jun 2024

Climate Changers – World Environment Day Parliamentary Screening

‘We are relying heavily on you, Parliamentarians of Australia’: Pacifika leaders urge Minns Government to act urgently to meet the state’s emissions reduction targets

On World Environment Day, Wednesday 5th June, the NSW Government was urged by Pacifika leaders, scientists, climate experts, human rights advocates, legal experts and First Nations leaders to act urgently on the recent finding that the state is not on track to meet its emissions reduction targets under the Climate Change Act.

Ministers, MPs, scientists, researchers, senior bureaucrats, legal experts, First Nations leaders and a contingent of dignitaries from the Kingdom of Tonga came together for a panel discussion on climate leadership and action. This followed a screening of acclaimed documentary Climate Changers shown in the Parliament of New South Wales, featuring Tim Flannery and several of the speakers.

The panel addressed an audience of cross-party parliamentary representatives and was led by Climate Council’s Chief Councillor, scientist and one of Australia’s leading writers on climate change, Professor Tim Flannery; Indigenous Climate Change Ambassador for the Kingdom of Tonga, Uili Lousi;Dharawal and Yuin Custodian, community leader and consultant Paul Knight; Australian-Fijian international human rights lawyer and leading expert on feminist climate justice, Kavita Naidu; and 25-year-old law student and Rising Tide grassroots organiser, Zack Schofield; with moderation by Greens MP for Climate Change, Sue Higginson.

They discussed the impacts of Australia’s actions on the Pacific region, the urgent need to address emissions at all levels of government, and the responsibilities of the New South Wales Government under the Climate Change (Net Zero Future) Act 2023.

Guests were presented with a copy of the Climate Council’s landmark Seize the Decade report, which provides a practical blueprint for Australia to cut climate pollution by 75 per cent by 2030, including a policy gallery for decision makers across all levels of government.

Panellists expressed frustration at the federal and state governments’ failures to draw a line on the approval of new coal and gas projects, and warned of the risks if the transition to renewables comes at the expense of resource-rich developing countries and communities.

The event was hosted by Documentary Australia and the Climate Council, with support from cross-party representatives. It also marked Climate Changershistoric first screening in a parliamentary setting around Australia, coinciding with the documentary’s Australian broadcast premiere on SBS and SBS Viceland.

“When I look at this Parliament, we’ve set a relatively weak target of 50 per cent and we’re set to fail it. What does that say for our political leaders in this house to sit here today knowing that is where we’re heading? Every citizen of NSW will live with the consequences of that poor decision-making.” – Professor Tim Flannery

“My message is how important it is for our Pacific leaders and everybody to come together for the resilience of what is needed for the next generations.” – Uili Lousi

“We in the Pacific do not need your profit-making carbon market solutions. If we are talking about renewables and just transition, it cannot be the new frontier for green colonialism. It means not green grabbing Indigenous lands in Australia or elsewhere, and not blue grabbing our oceans in the Pacific for deep seabed mining. Those critical rare earth minerals and metals cannot be the next exploitation of resources from developing countries to serve the consumption needs of developed countries. Australia really needs to do better. This is not climate justice; this is not climate solutions. So do better, leaders, do better.” – Kavita Naidu

“Leadership is about relationship, about how we connect with each other and with the places we’re in. From a traditional cultural perspective, that is the only thing to me – relationship to Country. We need to be acknowledging and respecting Country.” – Paul Knight

“No government that claims to be taking action on climate change can also approve new coal and gas projects. The NSW Government is at a point where it’s considering the Hunter Valley Operations coalmine expansion, which would expand coalmining in the upper Hunter until 2050 for export. The emissions and the blame are exported overseas and we wash our hands of it.” – Zack Schofield

Climate Changers is a Totem Films production, presented by Antidote Films and Documentary Australia’s Environmental Accelerator program, with support from Intrepid Travel and with the Climate Council as a key impact partner.

Media Response

IF Magazine