OMG, the Australian government are looking more and more like the kids caught with their hand in the cookie jar, the one where the cookies are baked using fossil fuels. While they are promoting a gas-led recovery, within the last month we’ve seen significant climate action where China, Japan and South Korea have committed to net zero emissions, and the Philippines banned new coal power stations.
Then yesterday, when ANZ announced their coal divestment strategy, Littleproud and McCormack called for a boycott of the bank, saying that it wasn’t the bank’s responsibility to act as a moral compass. Well, firstly, the government isn’t doing anything to show leadership on climate action so it’s up to others to act. Secondly, the bank isn’t trying to save the world, they’re just doing what makes economic sense to protect their business. And thirdly, they’re the last of the big four to take this step.
Additional international pressure for climate action comes from the EU, which looks to be committing to tougher emissions targets by 2030 and will also make its net zero by 2050 target legally binding. A zero emissions target is now legislated in many countries including New Zealand and the UK. And if Biden wins the US election…
Also in Europe, a draft policy that indicates the EU will not recognise gas power plants as a green investment. While gas has lower carbon emissions than coal, more recent research has discovered and quantified that fugitive methane emissions make it just as dangerous for our climate.
It’s been excruciating to see this slow moving train wreck as this government has deliberately ignored climate action and moved Australia toward economic ruin where we will be left with stranded assets. But these recent rapid developments are making it very hard for the government to ignore the writing on the wall. It feels like the government is not listening but it turns out, there are a helluva lot of people like me who support meaningful climate policy to reduce our emissions.
The Australia Institute released this week the results from its latest Climate of the Nation survey. They found the vast majority (79%) of Australians understand global warming is driven by humans with 59% preferring a renewables-led recovery and only 12% want the gas-led recovery the government is committing to, under the advice of their hand-picked Covid Coordination Commission.
It’s no wonder then, that cracks are starting to appear. Today, a centre-right think tank is warning of the impact on coal demand and the NSW environment minister is criticising their outdated approach. The Royal Bushfire Commission released its report just hours ago and, as hoped, it talks a lot about climate change and its impacts.
We need climate action, now!
While the renewables sector is moving along without policy it is finding hurdles such as an electricity grid that is not in the right place, but the sector is, on its own, pulling down Australia’s emissions. The Australian Energy Market Operator has already mapped a transition to 94% renewables, including the grid issue. However, without federal policies on emissions reduction, RepuTex Energy has found total emissions from the 200 largest emitters are forecast to rise by 77% between 2005 and 2030.
Australia must take action on climate with an emissions reduction target and policies legislated in an Act. We need it now. Not because we need to be showing our leadership (it might be too late for that) but because it makes economic sense. Australia’s economic future could be as a renewable energy superpower. I am hoping the next few months will see the pressure build to a point where something will get done.
This blog is the result of a theme picked up from the Sustainable Development News over the past month.