Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford told delegates at the opening of a university-hosted Pacific Climate Change Conference today that politicians need to act now to avoid tragedy.
Professor Guilford opened the three-day conference in Wellington focusing on the threat of climate change in the Pacific, stressing his heartfelt concern over the issue.
“My anger arises from the breath-taking ignorance, complacency and self-interest that surround the global challenge of climate change,” he said.
Professor Guilford said the science behind climate change was “crystal clear” and cannot be ignored.
“Our politicians must grasp the gravity of the situation, disentangle themselves from vested interest, abandon their myopic focus on the costs of mitigation, and embrace the criticality of energy reform. Not to do so is an abject failure of leadership.”
Victoria University’s own Climate Change Research Institute is working to provide a better link between science and policy, while its Antarctic Research Centre is looking at the Antarctic climate and its influence on the global climate system.
“We’ve also taken very real-world steps of stopping investing in fossil fuels and actively reducing our own carbon footprint,” says Professor Guilford.
“What we need on a bigger scale is a cross-party and international consensus, bold policy, firm regulation, and very significant investment.”
Speakers at the conference include Republic of Kiribati President Anote Tong, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, international experts, and Victoria University’s James Renwick and Tim Naish.