AUSTRALIA’S first ever annual climate change statement underscores how much work is still needed nationally when it comes to climate action – and what is at stake if we fall short.
The documents tabled in the Australian Parliament today show that if we don’t take strong action in this term of government:
Industrial emissions hardly budge
Transport emissions will continue to rise
Fugitive emissions from fossil fuels will increase and the mining industry will be Australia’s largest source of emissions in 2030
To achieve its own target of at least a 43% reduction in emissions by 2030, the government needs to drive cuts of at least 17 million tonnes of carbon a year (equivalent to Australia’s entire fleet of light commercial vehicles).
The statement sends a stark warning that climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, is accelerating with severe consequences already being felt by Australians here and now.
Experts agree that the world is still barrelling towards climate catastrophe, and all countries need to do much more – more quickly – to cut emissions this decade. Climate Council recommends Australia aim for a 75% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and reach net zero shortly after.
Climate Council Head of Advocacy Jennifer Rayner said: “While Australia has turned a welcome corner when it comes to national climate and energy policy, the government must now deliver the strongest version of its commitments and go further to protect Australians from harmful climate change.
“That means turning the Safeguard Mechanism into a strong tool for cutting industrial emissions and accelerating our energy transition to a grid powered by clean wind and solar. Australia must also put in place fuel efficiency standards to clean up our car fleet, and start the phase down of coal and gas.
“These actions can drive Australia’s emissions down by far more than 43% during this crucial decade for action.”
Australians want strong climate action – as demonstrated by the recent election result in Victoria. The Andrews Government was re-elected on a platform of reducing emissions by 75-80% on 2005 levels by 2035 and providing 95% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by the same date.
“Our new government has hit the ground running but the Climate Change Authority has been clear we are in the race of our life to cut emissions in time to avoid the worst impacts of harmful climate change and capitalise on the opportunities of a clean economy,” said Climate Councillor Nicki Hutley.
“The elephant in the room, however, remains: Australia is addicted to fossil fuel revenues. We still need to address the root cause of climate change, and rapidly phase down the use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.”