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Social Responsibility

Federal government remains an embarrassment on climate change, say scientific experts

Health Industry Hub | November 12, 2021 |
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As host of the COP26 summit, the UK has released a seven-page draft document outlining decisions from the parties at the summit. Should countries agree to the commitments in the draft, Australia may need to revisit its 2030 emissions reduction target to keep up.

Dr Rob Hales, Director of Griffith Centre for Sustainable Enterprise at Griffith University said “Australia is working against the aims of COP26. It’s widely accepted that Australia has not brought new emissions reductions targets to COP26 but now Australia is reported to be lobbying to weaken draft texts at COP26 in Glasgow. 

“The Australian Government has been working to remove or soften the draft Glasgow Accord which aims to make governments revisit and strengthen the emissions reductions targets for 2030 within 12 months. The Australian Government also does not agree with a statement in the draft accord that calls on countries to speed up phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. 

“Australia has burnt 42% of its allowable fossil fuel emissions since 2013, based on a fair share approach, and has 58% left to burn between now and 2050. Without increasing ambition in targets and plans to reduce fossil fuel emissions, it is almost certain that Australia will overshoot its budget.

“Previously at COP25 the only countries to block the agreement on the rule book (Article 6) of the Paris Agreement were Australia, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia. It is interpreted that Australia wanted to include carryover credits from the Kyoto Agreement which was a cop-out for taking further action on reducing emissions,” Dr Hales added.

Ian Lowe, Emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University, Qld and former President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, commented “The new pledges by most affluent nations and the China-USA agreement are welcome steps forward. If all the pledges are honoured – and that is a big ‘if’ – there is now a credible path to keeping the increase in average global temperature around two degrees.

“That is still very bad news for those countries already being severely impacted by climate change, especially the small island states in the Pacific. Australia is also in the front line of impacts, especially the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait Island communities.

“So it was especially disappointing that Australia, alone among affluent countries, did not offer any new commitment to the emission reductions that are urgently needed. Even worse, our government was flaunting its disregard by actively touting for further investment in gas projects and refusing to join the moves to phase out coal and curb methane emissions. While most states are now taking serious action to slow climate change, our national government remains an embarrassment,” commented Professor Lowe.


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