Half baked: net zero announcement missing rapid emission cuts

26.10.21 By

A NATIONAL net zero target is long overdue, and must be accompanied by accelerated action to deeply cut emissions this decade so Australians can reap the economic benefits of a global transformation, says the Climate Council. 

The net zero by 2050 announcement, and an indication that Australia may exceed its weak 2030 emissions target by reaching ‘up to 35% below 2005 levels’, means Australia remains dead last among comparable nations on climate action.

Climate Council CEO, Amanda McKenzie: “The Federal government has now cemented the commitments from all state governments, putting Australia on a path to phase out coal, oil and gas pollution. 

“Net zero by 2050 is a joke without strong emissions cuts this decade. Australia desperately needs to dramatically scale up renewable energy, phase out coal and gas and electrify our transport systems. Otherwise we miss out on the economic opportunities of the global transition and expose ourselves to the fire, flood and heat risks of climate change,” said Amanda McKenzie who has attended three previous COPs

Ahead of major UN talks to be held in Glasgow from October 31, Australia is under massive international pressure to do more, with the threat of carbon border tariffs hanging over our economy. Australians are already being harmed by climate change, from massive fires to sea level rise, which will continue to worsen under accelerating climate change.

Climate Councillor and Emeritus Professor at Australian National University, Professor Will Steffen: “To achieve net zero and help avoid catastrophic climate change, the federal government must take rapid and concrete steps to cut emissions deeply this decade, starting with an end to all new coal or gas projects. 

“All gas and coal expansion must stop, and we need to move away from existing fossil fuel use as quickly as possible. Any climate commitment should be judged against this measure. Australia remains one of the only advanced economies that hasn’t offered up a new, higher target for 2030 emission cuts — despite clear requests for this from UN officials,” said Professor Steffen. 

The Climate Council recommends that Australia reduce its emissions by 75% (below 2005 levels) by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2035. This is based on rigorous scientific risk assessments.

“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,” said Professor Steffen. 

Climate Councillor, and leading Australian economist, Nicki Hutley: “It’s in Australia’s clear economic interests to act swiftly and decisively on climate change; new industries will bring billions of dollars of economic opportunities. We can’t rely on unproven technologies like carbon capture and storage.”

“As one of the sunniest and windiest countries on earth, Australia has unrivalled potential for renewable energy, clean industries, and clean jobs,” she said. 

“The regions have the most to lose from worsening extreme weather events and the most to gain from harnessing new industries. A 2050 plan is too late, we need action now to avoid missing out on the opportunities for regional Australia of renewables,” said Ms Hutley. 

See our Net Zero Factsheet HERE

For interviews please contact Brianna Hudson on 0455 238 875 or Hannah Izzard on 0475 247 754 

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.

For further information, go to: climatecouncil.org.au

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