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Sizzling Stories

Climate Change: The World’s Hottest Topic

By Erin Arnett
Oaktree Email Team

The term ‘climate change’ is a buzz phrase you will hear being thrown around in many political contexts (and Oaktree posts!), and with good reason. With the impending write-up of the Foreign Affairs White Paper—which the federal government is currently working on—there has never been a time more urgent to bring this topic to light (hee, hee… Weather puns).

In essence, the Foreign Affairs White Paper will detail Australia’s 10-year plan on major issues including humanitarian aid, immigration and (of course) climate change. In a welcomed example of community engagement, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has requested public input into the process. To have your say and become part of Oaktree’s Collective Voice, you can take our 60 second survey.

Climate change is one of the topics we need to get fired up about. It is quite literally the world’s hottest topic right now as it is a major threat to the health of our planet. This, in turn, is a threat to our security. It is an even greater threat to those affected by poverty, whose resources and lifestyle factors dictate that they are far less able to adapt to its effects.

Climate change is a serious threat to Australian farmers. Photo via The Guardian.

For example, climate change naturally affects agricultural practises. In order to adapt to altered weather conditions, farmers need to select different crops to grow or change the timing of farming operations. With the planet heating up, though, farmers may not be able to adapt as easily—hence, our resources for food could come under threat.

As if impending malnutrition wasn’t scary enough, climate change also has the capacity to impact our health and wellbeing. Higher temperatures naturally lead to a heightened occurrence of heatwaves, and this tolls the elderly and the sick most of all. Heat stress is a serious issue that has been shown to markedly increase the mortality rate.

Still need more convincing? A warmer climate places greater demands on electricity due to a marked increase in the use of air conditioning, which also heightens the likelihood of blackouts, and thus cancellation of public services that require air conditioning. In general, our infrastructure is at risk due to erosion and a rising sea level.

It’s not all bleak, though. A government body called the Clean Energy Regulator is working on legislation to reduce carbon emissions and increase the use of clean energy. The government says that we are meeting current targets, but it’s no secret that more needs to be done. One of their latest proposals—to spend clean-energy subsidies on ‘clean coal’—clearly shows where their priorities lie.

In 2015, people around the world protested to ensure our leaders committed to the Paris Agreement.

In 2015, Australia (along with 193 other countries) pledged to do its part to fight climate change and adapt to its effects. This monumental event was called the Paris Agreement, one of the most significant examples of international diplomacy, ever. It effectively saw the world negotiating and agreeing on targets to ensure that the global temperature be kept well under two degrees Celsius for the next century (with efforts to further lessen this temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius).

The bad news is that President Trump is set to pull out of the Paris agreements, despite representing the United States, which is responsible for 15 percent of all global emissions (making it the world’s second-largest offender). If other countries follow the US’ example, the Paris Agreements may be compromised.

Thankfully, Australia looks set to keep its commitments, but that doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels. As global citizens, we need to make more noise about this.

You can remind our leaders just how crucial climate change is to our livelihoods by taking our 60 second survey. Each submission makes Oaktree’s Collective Voice that one decibel stronger. Let’s create some heat and make them realise we won’t stay silent.