Seizing the Decade: Australia’s path to a safer, cleaner and more prosperous future

10.04.24 By

Opinion article written by Climate Council Head of Advocacy and Policy Jennifer Rayner

As we approach the mid-point of this make-or-break decade for our climate, the stakes have never been higher. In 2023 – the world’s hottest year on record – Australians experienced ‘climate whiplash’, hurled from flooding rains to heatwaves to fierce fires, and back again. This is our new reality, underlining the urgent need to slash  climate pollution from coal, oil, and gas further and faster right now.

Momentum is building, and we’re making important progress in some areas. Today, about 40% of the electricity in our main national grid comes from clean wind and solar, while around one in three Aussie households have taken power into their own hands by putting panels on the roof. Now, we need to accelerate this momentum to keep cutting climate pollution across every part of our economy. 

The Climate Council has mapped out a pathway to slash Australia’s climate pollution by 75% this decade and get us on the right track for net zero by 2035. We can do this by harnessing the power of proven and available technologies to electrify the nation and empower communities. 

At the heart of our plan is a bigger, cleaner grid – so we can overwhelmingly power ourselves without pollution and build an industrial base that’s fit for the 21st century. We can use a mix of existing clean technologies to build a reliable, diverse and resilient energy system that’s  94% renewable by 2030, and enable two in three families to drive down their costs of living by installing solar on their rooftops. This clean energy will lay the foundation for our next era of prosperity with thriving, globally competitive businesses in clean industry, manufacturing and more. The Federal Government’s recent $1 billion commitment towards manufacturing solar technology here at home aligns with this vision, reducing climate pollution and creating clean jobs across regional Australia.

So many of the solutions we need are already here. From supercharging renewable energy to electrifying transport, and from cleaner ways of making things to better building efficiency, technologies and techniques are proven, available, underway and ready to be scaled up. Our work underscores the importance of governments, industry and communities working together to deliver these changes because this is a plan everyone will have a part in. Most importantly, it shows millions more Australians will enjoy the benefits of a cleaner, safer future when we do this.

There is no safe level of climate pollution and everything we do now to slash it matters. The decisions we make today will shape our shared future and the lives of every young Australian. We now have a clear plan to embrace Australia’s unique opportunities in renewable energy and clean industries during this critical window for action. A plan to cut climate pollution at the speed and scale the science demands, while sharing the benefits more widely than ever before. 

This is our moment to act decisively, to set Australia up for success with a stable climate and a thriving clean economy. Let’s seize this decade so that when our kids look back on it, the stories they tell are about how we turned the tide on climate change and delivered them a safer, more prosperous future.

Watch the Climate Council’s latest video on the plan to cut climate pollution: