Summary: The Australian government’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis is at odds with its continued support for new and expanded fossil fuel developments, according to a new scientific review by the Climate Council. The review states that Australia should be aiming for a 75% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, compared to the government’s minimum target of 43%. The report also suggests that the country should aim for net zero emissions by 2035, rather than the current goal of 2050. The review highlights evidence that emissions from fossil fuel industries have fallen less than 1% since 2005, while emissions from transport and major industry have continued to increase. In order to effectively address the climate crisis, the review argues that Australia needs a plan to transition to renewable energy and move away from fossil fuels.
The report highlighted the benefits of rapidly cutting emissions this decade, including cleaner air, improved mental health, affordable and reliable energy, and the creation of climate-focused jobs. Without decisive action, global heating is likely to exceed 2C by the end of the century, leading to the collapse of marine ecosystems, coastal inundation, more severe heatwaves and bushfires, shifts in rainfall patterns, and food system collapse. Australia, as the 14th largest national emitter of heat-trapping pollution and the third biggest fossil fuel exporter, has a special responsibility to lead the way in transitioning to cleaner and safer practices.
The Climate Council’s research director, Simon Bradshaw, emphasized that there is still much that can be done and called on leaders to seize the opportunities presented by addressing the climate crisis. The report coincided with an open letter published in the New York Times signed by over 200 scientists, experts, and campaigners, urging the Australian government to halt new fossil fuel developments. The letter argues that Australia has a special responsibility to stop contributing to global emissions through its fossil fuel production.