Australia’s Academy of Science is calling on the Federal Government to accelerate the country’s transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 to 20 years. This is so the nation can play its part in avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
The key recommendation is included in a landmark Academy report published today (Wednesday).
The report, which explores the risks to Australia’s future based on the current global trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, states that the world reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 is an absolute minimum if the country is to avoid potentially insurmountable challenges to its cities, ecosystems, industries and food and health systems.
Catastrophic consequences of temperature rise
It highlights that even if the world’s governments meet their current Paris pledges on time, Earth is likely to reach average global surface temperatures of 3oC above the pre-industrial period during this century, with catastrophic consequences.
To achieve net zero, the Academy says Australia will need to rapidly remove greenhouse gas emissions from a range of sectors through the implementation of new strategies.
These include electricity generation and distribution; electrify the transport sector, industry and buildings; increase energy efficiency across the board; and reduce non-energy related greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including industrial processes and agriculture.
Academy emphasises that science has solutions
President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor John Shine, noted: “This new report makes clear that while the planet is well on the path to harmful climate change, as with Covid-19, science has solutions.
“Australia is well positioned to meet the climate change challenge by combining our scientific knowledge with economic opportunities associated with moves to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.”
Shrine said the Academy urged the Australian Government to implement the recommendations of the report and stood ready to assist by providing sound scientific advice to help formulate the policy response.
Limiting change to 1.5-degrees is impossible
Academy Fellow, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, is the Chair of the expert panel that developed the report. He said limiting climate change to 1.5°C is now virtually impossible and that a rapid transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions is required if the international community is to limit warming to well below 2°C.
“Australia must revisit its emission-reduction commitments and work with other countries to provide the leadership and collaboration required to place Australia and the world on a safer climate trajectory.
“Australia has a stable business landscape. We have a great scientific tradition. We have enormous resources for the next wave of innovative technologies. We not only have a responsibility to be an international leader on climate action, but need to grasp the enormous economic opportunities presented by the ‘new’ economy,” said Hoegh-Guldberg.