Image for An open letter to politicians ....

*Pic: The South Australian blackout of 2016 was a widespread power outage in South Australia that occurred as a result of storm damage to electricity transmission infrastructure on 28 September 2016. The cascading failure of the electricity transmission network resulted in almost the entire state losing its electricity supply. Pic: Climate Council via Ted Mead.

Firsst published March 11

Hon. Will Hodgman
Premier of Tasmania

Hon. Bryan Green
Leader of the Opposition

Cassy O’Connor
Leader of the Tasmanian Greens

Parliament House
Hobart 7000 Tasmania
4 March 2017

In the wake of the Paris Agreement and in light of current and potential damage caused by climate change to Tasmania’s communities and economy, we appeal to you to take a fresh, cooperative approach to a long-term climate change strategy for Tasmania.

You will be aware that just a few weeks ago a wide spectrum of national interest groups, including energy businesses and unions, jointly appealed for political leaders to work together on national energy reform. You will also know that Australia’s financial regulator (APRA) has more recently warned that climate change poses a material risk to Australia’s entire financial system and that it is unsafe for companies to ignore climate risks.

Extreme weather events of 2016 should serve as a wake-up call. We ask that you act decisively on the understanding that climate change will become the main determinant of Tasmania’s future prosperity. It may be that already; in recent times climate change has adversely affected infrastructure and operations of fisheries, Tasrail, Hydro Tasmania, the farming community and national parks.

Yet the prevailing cultural attitude in Tasmania is that we are a low-risk part of the world and can take a softly-softly approach to climate change, resulting in poor risk management throughout the economy. Successive administrations have failed to follow up on the Lennon government’s climate initiatives of 2007-08. Climate change strategies developed under one administration have been summarily shelved under a new one.

We appeal to you to recognise that our capacity to respond adequately to the challenge of climate change is being threatened by adversarial political processes. For the sake of our communities and businesses and the protection of our progeny, our natural assets and our future prosperity, Tasmania’s political leaders must put aside their differences to find substantial and lasting solutions to this over-arching challenge.

Yours sincerely,
Mel Fitzpatrick
On behalf of board members, Climate Tasmania

*Mel Fitzpatrick is a climate scientist and educator. Much of her work over the last two decades has concentrated on effective communication of climate science to both policymakers and the general public. A specialist in polar and alpine research, Dr Fitzpatrick has worked for the Australian Antarctic Program, the US Antarctic Program, and in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. She earned a PhD at the University of Washington researching the interaction between sea ice, clouds and climate. Dr Fitzpatrick was an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, contributing to the reports in both 2001 and 2007. She worked for six years at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a US based non-profit that plays a key role in ensuring sound science informs policy. With a small team, she developed a series of climate impact reports for a dozen U.S. states, including outreach and education of climate impacts in coastal and mountain areas. Mel has recently returned to Tasmania and continues to be passionate about bridging science and policy.