Dr. Nicola Maher appeared today in front of the Senate Environment and Communications Committee to provide evidence on the Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Climate Equity) Bill Inquiry 2023.

The Bill seeks to amend the Climate Change Act 2022, to require decision-makers to consider the health and wellbeing of children in Australia when making significant decisions in relation to the exploration or extraction of coal, oil or natural gas.

Dr Nicola Maher, Chief Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, said: “When we think about warming, a 1.5 or 2°C world doesn’t really tell us about the impacts on us and the future generations.”

“Having a Bill like this is perhaps a more tangible way to consider how the policies we make actually affect people rather than thinking about it in terms of targets that are often unmanageable for our brains to understand.”

Dr. Nicola Maher at the Australian Parliament

Maher’s appearance follows a submission to the Committee in late November 2023 by early career researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes. 

“We’ve submitted to this Bill, because we want policies that consider our generation and the next generations,” she said.

The submission, in support of the amendment, demonstrates the alarming state of the climate, including trends in temperature, marine heatwaves, bushfires, heavy rainfall, as well as current and future impacts on the Australian population and globally. 

In their submission, the Centre’s young scientists stated: “As early career researchers (ECRs) of climate science in Australia, climate change and its mitigation is the defining challenge of our careers, and our generation. Climate change will affect all aspects of our lives: the work we perform, the food we eat, the energy we use, and the places in which we live.”

“Failure to take the necessary actions will force our generation and those after us to face even more serious crises. As such, we unequivocally support the Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Climate Equity) Bill 2023.”

The Centre’s early career researchers have a unique perspective on Australia’s efforts to mitigate climate change and have contributed to understanding the increasing occurrence of terrestrial and marine heatwaves, the changing risk of droughts and flooding rains, southeast Australian bushfires, and the increasing risk of compound events in a warmer world.

“Although we are younger scientists, we are experts in climate science whose research enriches global understanding of climate risks both here in Australia and internationally.”

Following today’s public hearing at the Australian Parliament House in Canberra, the Committee will continue to gather evidence on the topic and produce their recommendations in due course in the form of a report.

Watch the full video of the public hearing here.