7 March 2023

'This is a critical decade': Rattenbury returns from Antarctic expedition spurred on to tackle Canberra’s emissions

| James Coleman
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Shane Rattenbury

The trip was for pleasure, but there was a serious side for Shane Rattenbury. Photo: ACT Government.

The ACT’s Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction and Green’s leader has come back from two weeks of personal leave with renewed vigour to tackle Canberra’s emissions.

Shane Rattenbury was invited to join an expedition to Antarctica from 13 to 25 February, as one of 110 climate change ambassadors from around the world.

The Antarctic Climate Expedition 2023 was run by the Ocean Geographic Society on board a new, ‘climate-neutral’ Aurora Expeditions ship, named in honour of oceanographer and leading marine conservationist Dr Sylvia Earle. Dr Earle herself hosted the expedition.

While the trip was primarily for pleasure – watching whales, counting penguin colonies, taking photos and more – there was also business to attend to.

The group, which included experts from the fields of science, art, education and economics – alongside inquisitive teenagers and corporate executives – were tasked with putting their heads together to come up with 23 resolutions to “inspire transformative changes for global net-zero emissions by 2035”.

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“The trip was … to tell the story of Antarctica, both as being at the forefront of climate change impacts but also the impact that people have on the rest of the planet,” Mr Rattenbury told Region.

According to Ocean Geographic, the masterplan for the Antarctic Climate Expedition is “to bring about public and government awareness of the importance and the splendour of the Antarctic and to address the warming climate and loss of ice in the southern polar region as a direct threat to the future of human life on this planet”.

Mr Rattenbury was invited along “because the organisers recognised Canberra has made significant progress in tackling emissions”.

“They see us as a great case study of what you can do if you want to be serious about tackling climate change.”

Since 1990, Canberra has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 46 per cent, despite a population that has nearly doubled in size from 282,000 to 439,000 people.

Ship in Antarctica

An artist’s impression of the Sylvia Earl in Antarctic waters. Photo: Aurora Expeditions.

During a series of lectures on the expedition, Mr Rattenbury talked about “how mid-size cities can change the world”.

“Up to 22 per cent of the world’s population lives in mid-size cities and that’s rapidly growing. They are places where you can implement change quite quickly if you commit to doing it. What we’ve done can be copied by others.”

The latest sea ice report for the South Pole showed this summer’s sea ice levels are the lowest recorded since satellite imaging began in 1979. On 21 February, 2023, sea ice in the Antarctic reached an annual minimum extent of 1.79 million square kilometres.

It’s the second consecutive record low for Antarctic sea ice, although it’s worth noting 2013 through to 2015 saw near record high minimum extents.

“The biggest takeaway is how quickly things are changing,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Even some on the ship can describe places where they’ve been able to go this time, where they haven’t been able to in the past due to the sea ice.”

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It wasn’t his first trip to Antarctica. Back when Mr Rattenbury was head of oceans for Greenpeace International, he was leader of a “confrontational and dangerous” expedition in the summer of 2005/06.

Two ships and 60 crew members were tasked with taking on a Japanese whaling fleet, after the Japanese government had significantly increased the quota their hunters were allowed to kill.

“I was down there leading the crew in a nonviolent, direct attempt to interfere with the hunt by putting ourselves between the whales and the harpoons,” he said.

“We were able to slow down the hunt.”

Shane Rattenbury

Shane Rattenbury is looking to tackle climate change challenges. Photo: ACT Government.

Mr Rattenbury said the latest Ocean Geographic expedition took in a different part of Antarctica, so he couldn’t personally reflect on any major changes to the landscape since then.

“I was predominately at sea on the last trip, whereas this time I was able to land on the continent itself, so I wasn’t able to make those direct comparisons.”

Either way, he said he’d returned with renewed vigour to tackle climate-related issues here in Canberra.

“The urgency is so clear, we have no time to waste and we have to work as fast as we can if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Continuing to cut emissions from transport and build up the city’s electric vehicle fleet remain the focus, with the announcement of a promotional campaign for ‘World Car Free Day’ on 22 September to follow soon.

“This is a critical decade.”

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Garry Johnson12:57 pm 12 Mar 23

Maybe he should of gone to China.
Thats the problem there.!!!
What a waste of tax payers money. Hope he repays his vaction.

Respect to Shane. Using your holiday to witness the climate crisis from the front lines is what a passionate leader would do.

Capital Retro7:32 am 10 Mar 23

There does not appear to be a “climate crisis” where he is although I didn’t see any polar bears marooned on floating ice.

And he is smiling.

Not sure what you point is? Are you suggesting there is no climate crisis? And there are no polar bears in the Antarctic

Did you know for the majority of Earth’s history, the planet has never had polar ice caps? If we resurrected a dinosaur today it would die because the climate would be far too cold for them. Humans have actually lived during an unnaturally cold period in Earth’s history which was meant to be only temporary anyway. It is questionable whether the actions of man through burning of fossil fuels is actually speeding up the warming of the Earth or if it is just part of the natural cycle.

Source: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/whats-hottest-earths-ever-been

Dolphin, trust the data not what the woke left wing crowd will tell you!

Only a pompous Green would lecture long-suffering Canberrans after swanning around the frozen wastes on a pleasure cruise!

CaptainSpiff3:01 pm 08 Mar 23

“During a series of lectures on the expedition”

Seriously… What a joke it all is.

Those penguins look like they need a tram.

Capital Retro9:23 am 08 Mar 23

The trip was for “pleasure” but the photos are attributed to the ACT Government.

Please explain that, climate warrior.

How do you explain Elizabeth Lee’s trip to the COP26 forum in Glasgow CR? All funded by the Coalition for Conservation group. Was her trip also for pleasure? Elizabeth Lee was previously a climate change sceptic. She has accused the government of being climate change alarmists and economic vandals. Let’s not forget her party voting against energy schemes in the Assembly aimed at helping households doing it tough. What about her attendance at the Young Liberal ball where she willingly and happily participated in an auction for a lump of coal. Then there was her deputy Jeremy Hanson who ridiculed students marching in the climate change rally and refused to meet with them.
Not a good look for a party wanting to win government capital!

Capital Retro7:28 am 10 Mar 23

Nice attempt to do a “look over there, is that a unicorn?” to deflect the point I made.

How about you now explain the point I raised?

Capital Retro9:21 am 08 Mar 23

Only a hypocrite who claims to be a climate warrior would take a “pleasure” cruise to the Antarctic.

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