You don’t need to be a climate scientist or energy expert to have a conversation, but you might find a few key facts come in handy! 

The vast majority of Australians are concerned about climate damage and want our government to act, but some people are confused about basic facts. While it's generally better not to barrage people with facts and figures – you might find a few key facts come in handy, so choose the points below that are relevant to your conversation. 

Climate damage is here, now

  • People under 30 have never experienced a year of ‘normal’ temperatures. Climate damage is smashing temperature records month after month, year and year (source)
  • Catastrophic underwater heat waves have already killed a third of the coral on our Great Barrier Reef in back-to-back bleaching events in 2017-18 (source)
  • Heatwaves are getting hotter, longer and more deadly. They kill more Australians than floods, storms and fires combined. Elderly people in cities are most at risk (source)
  • It’s global, with wildfires burning in the Arctic circle, from Greenland to Siberia. Extreme heatwaves overwhelming Tokyo and Montreal. Thawing arctic permafrost in Alaska releasing plumes of climate-wrecking methane.

Digging up and burning coal is damaging our climate

  • From black lung to asthma, firestorms to floods – digging up and burning coal is killing people in Australia and around the world (source)
  • Coal is the biggest single cause of air pollution in Australia and contributes to 3,000 deaths each year (source). Air pollution kills an estimated 3 million people globally each year (source)
  • If it goes ahead, Adani’s mine would open the Galilee Basin to nine climate-wrecking, waterguzzling coal mines. It would be the biggest expansion of coal mining on planet Earth (source)
  • Just 100 companies have caused 70% of the world’s climate pollution (source)
  • In Australia, 10 companies are fuelling nearly half our climate pollution – including AGL, Energy Australia, Origin, Engie, Rio Tinto and Glencore (source). 

Solutions are here, now

  • We have the technology to power Australia with 100% clean electricity within the next 12 years (source)
  • Clean energy is growing fast. In 2017, the world added more new solar power than coal, gas, and nuclear plants combined (source)
  • Australia has the highest uptake of rooftop solar in the world with over over 1.8 million rooftops making the most of our bountiful sunshine (source). Queensland rooftops make more electricity than Gladstone, the state’s biggest coal-burning power station (source)
  • Australia’s ageing coal power stations and gas plants failed 53 times in the summer of 2017/18 (source)
  • Scotland and Belgium have already burnt their last lumps of coal for electricity. The UK plans to stop burning coal within a decade (source)
  • Countries like Denmark, Albania, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Norway, Iceland, Scotland and the Maldives are all at or rapidly moving towards 100% clean energy (source)
  • Proper climate and energy policies can create one million new jobs while reducing Australia’s climate pollution by 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2040 (source). 

We are here, now

  • There’s massive community support for stopping climate damage and switching to clean energy. 86% of Australians understand climate change is happening. 87% think we should invest in clean energy. 63% say they are an environmentalist at heart. Only 4% say coal is their preferred energy source (source)
  • The Australian Conservation Foundation community is over half a million people who show up, speak out and act for a world where our rivers, forests, people, reefs and wildlife can thrive.
  • The community campaign against Adani’s polluting mine stopped private and public funding – with all four Australian banks and 28 big international banks ruled out financing the mine. Together we successfully pushed the Queensland government to block a $1 billion publicly-funded loan (source).

Remember – you don’t need to be a climate scientist or energy expert to have a conversation. It’s enough to be a citizen who cares. The more your conversation explores shared values and experiences, the better.

Tessa Fluence

Public Narrative Coordinator at Australian Conservation Foundation