Climate Council says Australia should be cutting its emissions 21 times faster

According to the Climate Council 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’s pollution is only creeping down.

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 catastrophic climate change, and that:

Year on year, emissions were down (by 2.1%), with COVID-19 lockdowns and interstate travel restrictions a large reason for this.

States, territories and households solar installations are driving down emissions in the electricity sector (by 4.5% since the previous year) in spite of little or no support from the federal government.

The Climate Council says since this federal government came to power in 2013, emissions other than land clearing have fallen by a paltry 2.4% – or one third of a percent per year – with a sizable share of this due to the global pandemic.

Climate Council Senior Researcher Tim Baxter added, “Today’s quarterly emissions data reveals that our sluggish and inadequate national response continues. We know from painful, recent experience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, that delaying a response or being slow to act carries serious consequences. We can’t afford to go slow on this.”

“The time for leaning on the achievements of others is long since past. We need a federal government willing to step up on emissions reductions and take charge with real policy, not wish lists,” he said.

The current La Niña is driving storms, extreme rainfall and flooding in parts of the country – a stark contrast to the Black Summer bushfires that scorched Australia in 2019/2020 – but nonetheless amplified by accelerating climate change.

“There is no hiding the fact that the federal government will make this problem worse via its dangerous National Gas Infrastructure Plan. Expanding and opening up new massive fossil fuel basins will only see Australia’s emissions increase at a time when the rest of the world is shifting away from coal, oil and gas,” said Mr Baxter.

“Following the pathway that underpins the federal government’s new gas plan will put us on track for a world that is a catastrophic 3.5 degrees hotter. This is an unthinkable future,” he said.

The Climate Council recommends Australia aims 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 doing.

“Addressing the climate crisis is a race. Communities across Australia recognise it’s a race because they’re dealing with worsening extreme weather, like the Black Summer bushfires. Businesses recognise it’s a race because there are economic consequences in acting slowly, but many opportunities to cash in on if we do step up.

“Countries all over the world are racing towards net zero, but Australia’s response remains woefully inadequate. That should be of huge concern to every Australian,” said Mr Baxter.

All countries that recently signed up to the Glasgow Climate Pact but are yet to increase the ambition of their 2030 targets – including Australia – are required to do so by November 2021 at the latest.

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