Mission zero: How today’s climate choices will reshape Australia

20.09.23 By , , , , , , and

In a world pummelled by the consequences of the climate crisis, our simple pleasures, our livelihoods, and our overall safety and security are now under siege. This reality is confronting, and forces us to reckon with what we have already lost and muster up every bit of motivation to come together to safeguard what remains.

Over the past two years, since the publication of our report Aim High, Go Fast, and nearly a decade on from the moment countries from around the world decided under the Paris Agreement on how to respond to climate change, the impacts have continued to escalate. Already at 1.2°C of global warming, the world is grappling with stark realities as the toll on people and nature gets bigger and bigger: families uprooted by floods and fires, iconic ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef irrevocably harmed, entire species driven to extinction. And, too many lives lost.

Download the summary for policymakers here

The reality is simple: there’s no safe level of global warming and everything we do now matters. In this report, we explore the latest global science and data to break down the projections and what this means for Australia. We explain the science and debunk dangerous false solutions getting in the way of genuine climate action. As we teeter at the edge of crossing perilous tipping points in our climate system, so too are we at inflection points when it comes to the opportunities for transformative action. This window might be narrowing, but a brighter and safer future is still possible if we throw everything we’ve got at the climate crisis this decade.

For Australia, we must get our emissions on a steep downward trajectory with an actionable plan to reduce emissions by 75 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2035. This is doable. It requires an all-in effort that builds upon our modest progress to date. Fortunately we have the technology. The economics are favourable. Plus, the benefits to our health, our economy and our communities – our way of life – are undeniable. Today we must ask our leaders – do you want to be remembered for inching ahead with incremental changes that fell catastrophically short of what we knew was necessary? Or for striving to get it right by rising to the challenge and seizing all the opportunities now before us?

Mission zero report cover

Report key findings:

1. From feeling safe and secure in our own homes to being able to enjoy an off-road summer adventure, climate change is assaulting many aspects of the great Australian way of life.

2. Humanity has already profoundly altered the Earth’s carbon cycle, and incremental progress won’t fix it. Too little action, taken too slowly, could trigger abrupt and major changes that rapidly overwhelm us.

3. Choices made today will substantially shape the kind of world that younger Australians inherit. The more that we can cut greenhouse gas emissions this decade, the better the prospects for us all.

4. Anyone proposing to use more coal, oil or gas is reckless. It’s like adding more fuel to an already raging fire. It’s equivalent to gambling with everything that Australians value.

5. Today’s leaders stand on the cusp of history: will they go all-in to help build a safer and more prosperous world? Or will they tip us past a point of no return, condemning everyone to a radically dangerous and unstable world?

Our future, our choice

Download the summary for policymakers here