AUSTRALIA’S CRITICAL WINDOW of opportunity to tackle climate change is closing, with a new landmark report from the Climate Council revealing our nation is falling behind the rest of the world, failing to tackle climate change as pollution levels continue to rise.
The ‘Critical Decade 2017: Accelerating Climate Action’ report, shows Australia is highly vulnerable to many consequences of a changing climate, from worsening heatwaves, droughts and bushfires, to devastating coral reef bleaching, while most of the nation’s population centres are also highly exposed to sea level rise.
Climate Councillor and climate scientist Professor Will Steffen described Australia’s efforts to tackle climate change over the last decade as ‘unacceptably weak’, highlighting that the nation’s pollution levels have been steadily rising every quarter since early 2015.
“This is yet another urgent warning for Australia to rapidly cut its fossil fuel pollution levels. Climate change is driving worsening extreme weather events across the country, including hotter heatwaves, intense rainfall, flooding, more dangerous bushfires and even the back-to-back mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.
Professor Steffen said Australia must significantly slash rising greenhouse gas pollution levels immediately, or risk becoming the world’s climate change laggard.
“Australia’s reputation as a responsible global citizen is plummeting, while the rest of the world is making serious progress towards clean, affordable renewable energy and storage technology. Pollution levels are flat-lining around the world, and even dropping in China, the US and Europe.”
Report Key Findings Include:
- Australia is failing to tackle climate change with emissions rising and a lack of any coherent, long-term national approach to reduce emissions in the short, medium or long term. We are known as a global climate laggard.
- Failure to rapidly and deeply reduce greenhouse gas emissions increases the risk of deteriorating human health and well-being, massive forced migration and conflict, crippling economic damage around the world, and the Earth’s sixth great extinction event.
- Australia is highly vulnerable to many of the consequences of a changing climate, from worsening heatwaves, droughts and bushfires, to devastating coral reef bleaching, and most of our population centres being exposed to sea level rise.
- Amongst the G20 countries, Australia’s emission reduction target – a reduction of 26-28% on a 2005 baseline – is unusually weak, nowhere near what is required for us to play our fair share in meeting 2°C Paris target.
- Renewable energy has already replaced ageing, polluting fossil fuels as the energy system of the future, with the installation of solar and wind systems globally doubling every 5.4 years.
- Maintaining this rate of renewable expansion could see the world’s energy systems completely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said Australia is failing to tackle climate change due to a total lack of a coherent, long-term national approach to reduce emissions in the short, medium or long-term.
“This is a critical warning that the window of opportunity for the Federal Government to tackle climate change is closing,” she said.
“The vague offering of a National Energy Guarantee will not seriously deal with Australia’s climbing pollution levels. Australia cannot accept anything less than a long-term, bipartisan policy framework that turns away from fossil fuels, and embraces the inevitable clean energy future.”
Mckenzie commended state governments leading the transition to clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy and storage technology, as the number of solar and wind systems installed around the world continues to double every 5 and a half years.
“If we continue this rate of renewables expansion, the world could completely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, but we cannot achieve this without the help of the sunniest country in the world.”
“We are seeing states and territories, along with local governments all rolling up their sleeves to do their bit, including the world’s largest lithium ion battery and solar thermal plant in South Australia, to Canberra’s growing number of solar farms,” she said.
“The transition to 21st century energy is happening, regardless of the state of Australian politics. Renewable energy has already replaced ageing, polluting and expensive fossil fuels as the energy system of the future.”
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