Tim Bull is the member for the Gippsland East in the House of Assembly in Victoria. At very short notice I was given the chance to have a meeting with him and his political advisor to discuss climate change. The meeting was amicable with Tim saying that most state parliamentarians accept the science of climate change and that most of them support renewable energy projects, though with some reservations. The big problem with this is that accepting the science should not even be on the agenda – it is the same as accepting fact or reality. And it is the science and its implications that needs to be clearly understood.
When the science is looked at seriously the urgency of the problem becomes paramount thus requiring all our actions to be directed towards mitigation and adaption, in other words accepting and working on the climate emergency. The failure (not only of Mr Bull, but of most of the MPs of the major parties) to grasp the basics of the science becomes obvious when there is contradiction in their statements or a ‘disconnect’ between what they say and what they do. In Mr Bull’s case he failed at the first step by supporting the current logging practices and giving the usual reasons why it should continue.
But under no circumstances will logging continue under the real ‘climate emergency’ as there is substantial evidence that forests must be protected as a carbon store (see here and here). Planning should be under way for a rapid phase out of all logging; land clearing and removing any living trees should become a serious offence. At the same time the responsible government department should be increasing employment drastically in fire protection, emergency services, public health, education etc in the areas most affected by the rapid phase out. In any just transition over full employment must precede the phase out.
Tim stated he is in favour of the Star of the South offshore wind project and I suggested he might be more outspoken in his support and that projects like this need to be fast tracked. I further suggested that it was unlikely that Yallourn would see 2030 and that all Gippsland generators would be closed by 2040. I pointed out that there is a crunch coming in the politics of climate change mentioning the Extinction Rebellion and the recent school climate strike protest attended by about 800 and held in the medium strip outside his office. And stated that I was with them.
On the whole I am disappointed with my brief half hour. With 3 people present and normal conversation practice one is left with 10 to 15 minutes to make your point. In retrospect I wish I had emphasized that the climate emergency – his coming ‘crunch’ – overrides party loyalty and the other aspects of the status quo; that his legacy will be trashed by his inaction and his children and grandchildren bound to suffer.