Action to tackle climate change is at a crossroads – both globally and in Australia.
If we take strong and urgent to address climate change now, we may still avoid its worst impacts, protect our natural environment, build more sustainable energy and transport systems, and support our vulnerable neighbours.
However, if we fail to act with urgency, we will condemn ourselves, the vulnerable poor and future generations to increased hazards and impacts from climate change that may be beyond our ability to manage or respond to.
Globally, the Paris Climate Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November 2016, commits all nations to work together to keep warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to work to limit the increase to 1.5°C. This means that we will need rapid reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, to achieve zero net emissions (a balance between what we emit and what might be captured through reforestation and other processes) and then negative net emissions as a matter of urgency.
In Australia, the Government will undertake two reviews in the next two years to assess the effectiveness of its own policies to tackle climate change.
In June 2017, the Australian Government will launch a review into its Emissions Reduction Fund, the scheme that pays polluters to cut some of their greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, the Australian Government must also review Australia’s national emissions reduction targets in order to take stronger targets and policies to the 2020 international climate negotiations.
However, there are huge gaps between what we need to do, what we have pledged to do, and what we are actually doing. We need to speak out now in order to close those gaps.
In Australia, the Government is launching two reviews in the next two years to decide whether our targets and policies are strong enough to tackle climate change. (Hint: they’re not. Not by a long shot.)
While most businesses, farmer groups, electricity generators and the general public want stronger action on climate change, there are a committed core of politicians and fossil fuel lobby groups who want to delay action or do as little as possible.
In order to close the gaps between what Australia needs to do, what we have pledged to do, and what we are actually doing, we need to speak out.