38 Days to step up: Will Australia help on climate or keep hindering?

24.09.21 By
This content is more than 2 years old

IN A WEEK when Australia’s international counterparts have made significant new climate commitments, Australia is still hindering global efforts, says the Climate Council. 

“In the past week, the United States has pledged billions in new climate financing for developing nations, and China announced it will stop financing international coal power stations. This sets the tone for what’s expected of all countries in the lead up to the next major UN climate talks in November,” said Will Steffen, Climate Council spokesperson and Emeritus Professor at Australian National University.

“The contrast with Australia’s poor efforts couldn’t be starker. Australia is refusing to increase its 2030 emissions reduction target, or commit to net zero emissions. It has launched a marketing campaign that claims credit for the renewable energy efforts of states and territories, and made a tiny funding commitment to hydrogen hubs, but that’s not going to cut it,” said Professor Steffen. 

“The science is clear that the world urgently needs to reduce emissions this decade, but none of Australia’s commitments are a meaningful contribution to this goal,” said Professor Steffen. 

“The government still hasn’t budged despite calls to do more coming from the public, global leaders, business leaders and members of its own party. We are now one of the only advanced economies that hasn’t yet taken these essential steps to reducing emissions,” he added. 

China’s move to stop financing coal power stations overseas follows similar moves by Japan and South Korea earlier this year. The announcement effectively ends international finance for coal, with significant implications for the future demand of Australian coal exports.

Dr Simon Bradshaw, Climate Council Research Director, said: “As one of the sunniest and windiest countries on earth, Australia could be a global renewable energy powerhouse. Every day of delay is a missed economic opportunity.

“Australia’s climate inaction also creates national security risks and weakens our standing with key allies such as the United States that have security concerns in the Indo-Pacific region which are being exacerbated by our do-nothing attitude,” added Dr Bradshaw. 

“Climate change is on the agenda at this week’s high-level ‘Quad’ talks with the United States, Japan and China, and global leaders like US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson have made it abundantly clear that they expect countries like Australia to step up,” he said. 

“The world is putting us on notice; Australia can no longer get away with doing nothing on climate change. We have just over a month to deliver a credible climate policy that will enable us to go to COP 26 with our heads held high rather than slink in shamefully as a climate laggard,” said Dr Bradshaw. 

The Climate Council says the science demands that Australia reduce its emissions by 75% (below 2005 levels) by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2035. As a first step, Australia must at least match the updated commitments from our key allies, and pledge before Glasgow to at least halve our emissions (below 2005 levels) by 2030.

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The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.

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