Australia missing in action as world ratifies Paris climate accord

05.10.16 By

The world may have ratified the Paris accord but Australia is sorely missing in action, the Climate Council said today.

In the most significant step to date towards limiting global warming the Paris agreement was formally ratified overnight when more than 70 countries (representing more than 55 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions) formally signed on.

Those countries include top emitters the United States, China, India and Brazil, and our close neighbours New Zealand. Australia’s former Environment Minister signed the agreement in April but it is yet to be approved by Parliament.

This commits signatories to the agreement reached last December at the UN climate talks in Paris, where the world pledged to do everything possible to limit global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to only 1.5°C.

“If the pledges are honoured promptly, and then deepened, this could be the turning point in tackling climate change,” the Climate Council’s Chief Councillor Professor Tim Flannery said.

“Around the world, we have seen leaders act swiftly in acknowledging the huge task ahead of us. Unfortunately, here at home in Australia, we continue to bicker and drag our feet.”

Climate Councillor Professor Lesley Hughes, who last week appeared before a Parliament committee considering the Paris agreement, said Australia had so much work to do to reduce its emissions, and no time to lose.

“The severe storms that recently hit South Australia and other states, disrupting electricity supply and flooding our agricultural heartland, illustrates once again that Australia is on the front line of climate change,” Professor Hughes said.

“Without drastic and deep emissions reductions we will face even more severe climate impacts, which could cripple the nation’s major infrastructure and seriously affect our economy and way of life. Now is the time to get to work.”

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