Why Is Our Environment Minister Ignoring Media While The Planet Is Cooking?

This week, the entire world got the deeply unsettling news that we have little more than a decade to enact "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented" changes to prevent the planet from cooking.

The report from the UN's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- from 91 authors across 40 countries, and citing more than 6,000 scientific references -- basically confirmed what we've all known for years: we need to act, or we're screwed.

Specifically, we need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The IPCC's report issued solid targets: emissions need to fall by 45 percent by 2030, and reach 'net zero' by 2050.

That is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics, said Jim Skea, co-chair of one of the working groups on the report, but it would require "unprecedented" changes.

The response from the wider scientific community is broadly unified: we can fix this mess, but not without strong policy from governments worldwide.

In the days since the report was released, Australia's new Environment Minister is nowhere to be found.

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Scientists are warning that even if we do manage to cap a temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, we lose 70-90 percent of our reefs, risk "eliminating" the Great Barrier Reef as we know it. Photo: Getty.

Melissa Price, who was awarded the environment  portfolio in the post-libspill reshuffle, has declined multiple media interviews to speak about the worrying report.

Journalists from Fairfax, Sky News and ABC's 7.30 program have all revealed that multiple interview requests were turned down. Ten has not been able to secure an interview with the Minister, either.

"For the record, ABC 7.30 has invited new Environment Minister Melissa Price on the program to discuss topics including IPCC and Australia's emissions four times over the past ten days, including for tonight," executive producer Justin Stevens tweeted on Thursday. "She's declined all four invitations."

Price release a statement the same day as the report -- promising emissions will be reduced by 2030 -- but has since gone silent.

Ten daily understands the minister has claimed she has scheduling conflicts and is unable to accept interview offers; a request for comment from ten daily was not returned by time of publication.

During her  interview with ABC's Sabra Lane Price admitting she hadn't read the report in question and insisting on coal's ability to become "clean" by 2050.

"Coal does form a very important part of the Australian energy mix, and we make no apology for the fact that our focus at the moment is on getting electricity prices down," Price said.

"Every year there's new technology with respect to coal, and what its contribution is to emissions.

"So, I think-I think you know to say that it's got to be phased out by 2050 is drawing a very long bow."

"Sorry," replied an incredulous Lane. "Drawing a long bow? These are 91 scientists who -- their work is peer reviewed. This is a report that Australia has approved of."

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Australian farmers have dealt with what may be the worst drought in 800 years. Photo: Supplied.

Lane put similar questions to Morrison later that day: how credible does he think the report is?

Morrison replied with the confident assurance that Australia will meet the 2030 reduction emissions set by Kyoto Protocol.

"But who is giving you -- is there a credible, respected, independent scientist who backs you on that?" Lane pressed.

"Well, that is the advice that we're working through as a Government," he replied.

Giant tabular icebergs are surrounded by ice floe drift in Vincennes Bay in the Australian Antarctic Territory. Photo: Getty.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Photo: Melissa Price / Facebook