10 Apr 2024


With the Great Barrier Reef suffering its fifth mass bleaching event in just eight years – a scourge that has hit an estimated 75 percent of coral – the spotlight is now on Queensland and its climate policy.

The stage is set for the Queensland LNP to reveal its hand on two crucial climate Bills that will soon come before Parliament.

The stakes are high. Climate change is already belting the Sunshine State. Queenslanders are sweltering through more heatwaves, wet season rainfall has increased, and dangerous bushfire conditions are more common.

In December, the Daintree River flooded to more than 2m higher than the previous 118-year-old record, recorded in 2019. A month later the outback town of Birdsville had the highest minimum temperature ever recorded in Queensland, 35.2C, and then two days later reached 49.4C, the state’s highest temperature since 1972.

Cyclones off the Queensland coast have caused catastrophic damage and billon-dollar repair bills.

And our precious Great Barrier Reef is facing extraordinary stress and threats.

New aerial survey results indicate bleaching has hit all three regions of the Reef – north, central, and south – an event that is unprecedented in scale. The world is now on the verge of a global bleaching event, which is expected to be announced later this month.

Climate change is also ramping up cost-of-living pressures. Since 2011, Queenslanders have endured 100 disaster events including storms, fires, cyclones, storm tides and floods, costing more than $20 billion in insurance claims. We all pay more for insurance as a result.

People on lower incomes, who can least afford it, tend to live in the towns and suburbs hardest hit by extreme weather.

Reconstruction and clean-up costs reduce what can be spent on health and education. Storms, floods and heatwaves destroy crops, pushing up grocery prices.

Delaying climate action will only mean more hip pocket pain for Queenslanders as extreme weather becomes more frequent and intense.

Queensland has so much to lose from inaction on climate and so much to gain as the world decarbonises.

By investing in renewable energy now we can reduce the worst impacts of climate change and create thousands of new jobs. The path to a net zero economy will not only benefit our environment but also our economy.

Tackling climate change faster and being part of the global economic transformation will generate prosperity as the world shifts to net zero and seeks our clean, zero carbon Queensland products.

Premier Steven Miles has announced sensible climate action to be legislated in two Bills later this month.

One will seek to cut carbon emissions by 75% below 2005 levels by 2035. The other will set a target for 70% of the state’s energy to be generated by renewables by 2032 and 80% by 2035 with a clear and credible plan to get there.

WWF would like to see emissions reduced more rapidly as new opportunities to decarbonise faster are unlocked. But for now, these proposals combine a responsible step forward with prudent economics.

When these Bills are debated in Parliament, Opposition Leader David Crisafulli can show leadership and provide bipartisan support. Or propose even deeper emissions cuts which climate scientists say are required to save the Reef and protect the people and places we love.

Queensland has a nation-leading renewable energy and jobs plan, which represents a $62 billion commitment to transform the state's energy sector. The Queensland Resources Council has called this an “enormous opportunity”.

The energy industry has said bipartisan support from the LNP would enable long-term planning and investor certainty, paving the way for hundreds of billions of dollars of investments.

We need to unlock these investments to accelerate our transition to clean, reliable, renewable energy.

This issue is too vital to become a political football. Queensland voters don’t want our leaders to grandstand on this Century’s most crucial challenge. They want action.

The Queensland election will be fought on several key issues – the cost of living, law and order, the state of our health system.

But right now, our political leaders have an opportunity to tackle the issue of climate change in a serious way. This opportunity must not be squandered, ignored, or kicked down the road to the election.

As a person proudly raised in Queensland, I know we have the smarts, abilities, and solutions to be leaders on climate action. We can both protect our way of life and benefit our economy for generations to come.

By Ariane Wilkinson, Senior Manager, Climate and Energy Policy, WWF-Australia