Australia has made little progress since the Paris agreement despite major advances globally.
Environment minister Greg Hunt joined world leaders and diplomats at New York’s UN headquarters this morning to sign the Paris climate agreement.
In total 175 countries signed the agreement, setting a record for international diplomacy and potentially paving the way for the pact to become effective long before its 2020 deadline, subject to countries first formally approving it through their own domestic channels.
Some of the steps taken by other countries since the agreement include:
- China has pledged to shut down more than 1000 coal mines and reduce carbon intensity by 48 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, exceeding its original target of a 40-45 percent reduction by that year.
- India has doubled its carbon price on coal to finance clean energy initiatives.
- Since December, more than 500 new commitments have been made by cities, local government and other non-state actors. For example, San Diego plans to make the transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, while the U.S. state of Oregon passed legislation to end coal use and increase renewable energy to 50 percent by 2040.
- Canada and the USA committed in a joint declaration to taking action to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025.
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said Australia had made no progress since Paris.
“Our emissions are continuing to rise, particularly in the electricity sector, while electricity emissions in the US declined 18% last year,” she said.
“The impacts of climate change are now being felt nationwide. Hot days have doubled in Australia and our bushfire season began in October and is still ongoing in April in many parts of the country. Record-breaking ocean temperatures have caused devastating bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.
“Climate science funding has been gutted and 1.3 billion dollars is being ripped out of renewables investment.”
Climate Councillor Professor Lesley Hughes said the stability of the climate continued to deteriorate in the absence of any real action in Australia but that action worldwide gave her hope.
“Last month was the hottest March on record globally and the eleventh consecutive month to break its monthly temperature record,” she said.
“That’s the longest streak in 137 years of record keeping and the largest departure from the monthly average ever recorded.
“The signing of the agreement in Paris is another reminder that the world is moving to tackle this issue but Australia is falling well short of the mark when it comes to effectively tackling climate change.”