Race is on to cut carbon emissions, but Australia moving at snail’s pace

31.08.21 By

THE RACE IS ON to respond to accelerating climate change with rapid and deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions this decade, but the latest Federal Government data shows Australia is barely out of the starting blocks when it comes to responding.

Analysis by the Climate Council shows that Australia should be cutting its emissions 21 times faster than we are to play our part in avoiding the catastrophic consequences of worsening climate change.

The world’s climate experts issued a “code red” for the climate crisis earlier this month in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Today, quarterly emissions data released by the Federal Government reveals a sluggish and inadequate national response, Climate Council senior researcher Tim Baxter says.

“Today’s emissions data release proves the federal government’s climate response is woefully inadequate. They say we’re “on track” to cut emissions by one third of one per cent (0.28%) per year over the next decade. That is a snail’s pace – not the rapid and deep reductions we need to be making this decade,” said Mr Baxter.

For Australia to play its part the Climate Council says it should be aiming for a 75% cut in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. This would equate to emissions cuts occurring 21 times faster than what the federal government is managing.

“Addressing the climate crisis is a race, but Australia’s response remains sluggish and woefully inadequate. We should be doing everything we humanly can to respond to a threat as serious and pressing as this,” said Mr Baxter. 

“Instead, we are making slow and painful progress at a national level that too often comes down to dumb luck, or happenstance. The federal government has no climate or energy policy which is resulting in emissions cuts. Instead, the government is relying on things like lower transport demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

In the lead up to the next major United Nations climate talks in Glasgow in November many countries have increased their 2030 targets including the United States (50-52%), the United Kingdom (68%), Canada (40-45%) and Japan (46%). 

Australia set a woefully inadequate target of 26-28% and has refused to increase it since 2015 despite committing to do so as part of the international agreement it is signed up to. The Climate Council recommends a science-based target for Australia of reducing emissions 75% below 2005 levels, and reaching net zero by 2035. 

“Other countries are stepping up to the challenge – including all our strategic allies and trading partners – but we are nowhere to be seen. Australia needs a credible climate response, and that means making decisions that result in deep and rapid emissions cuts this decade. That’s what the majority of Australians want, and expect,” said Mr Baxter.



For interviews please contact Lisa Upton on 0438 972 260 or Vai Shah on 0452 290 082. 

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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