One of Australia’s leading commentators on climate change, Professor Tim Flannery shares his thoughts on Al Gore’s new documentary feature An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.
What did you think of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
It’s a really riveting account of how our planet’s climate is being changed, and what is being done about it. Despite recent decisions by President Trump, you come away from it with a sense of cautious optimism.
How successful has the first film, An Inconvenient Truth, been in raising awareness of climate change?
The first film, An Inconvenient Truth was instrumental in bringing climate change to mainstream news. When it first debuted in 2006, Al Gore became the unofficial ambassador on the war against man-made global warming. There have been studies conducted since its release showing that people feel more empowered and make lifestyle changes to combat climate change (The Conversation, Climate Reality Project).
With the sequel, I think now more so than ever, it’s important to have this issue front and centre given the recent news and developments world leaders have said on the topic. The current US president is dismissing climate change as a hoax which can set us, and the efforts made on climate change over the past decade, back.
Hopefully, this film, like its predecessor spurs the audience to take action.
What’s one thing that people could be doing right now to reduce their impact on the environment?
It starts with small things and doing things in your daily lifestyle that could reduce your impact on the environment. For example, using tote/canvas bags for your shopping instead of plastic, using KeepCups for your takeaway coffee, reducing your reliance on your car to walk or use public transport.
What, in your opinion, is the best long-term plan for tackling climate change, and how can it be implemented today?
We need to make the transition away from fossil fuels as fast as possible, at the same time that we build new industries, like seaweed farming, that can draw CO2 out of the air. It is all do-able, but a global price on carbon would hasten the transition and lower the costs.
Do you believe worldwide carbon emission regulation is a realistic goal?
We already have a global treaty aimed at reducing carbon emissions, so it’s already a reality. An Inconvenient Sequel helps tell how this incredibly important move was made, and what it means to our future.
What should Australia, as nation, be doing right now?
We should be shutting down our old coal, moving to clean, cheap energy sources like solar, and investing heavily in innovation that reduces carbon pollution. We’re already doing a lot of that, but not fast enough.
Do you think the costs of renewable energy will continue to drop?
Yes, the cost is dropping every year. The trend suggests that within a decade at most it will be cheaper to build and operate new solar farms than just to run coal plants. Electric vechiles are still relatively expensive, though costs will drop as manufacture increases.
In An Inconvenient Sequel, Gore focuses on renewable and clean energy as an optimistic look towards the future. There are pockets of optimism – Elon Musk’s lithium-ion battery in South Australia, China’s commitment to spend $500 billion on renewables by 2020, and France’s ban on petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2040.
Why do you think there are so many climate change sceptics?
Surveys show that they’re only around 7% of the population. But they are loud and get lots of air time. Many of them are elderly, however, and we’re seeing less of them with every passing year.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is out on November 15.