Australia, the climate laggard, could lead the world: over to you, PM

Chimney columns fall during the demolition of the Hazelwood power station, in Victoria, in May 2020
16 December 2020

Joe Biden’s new climate czar, John Kerry, said recently: "Every day we lose ground debating alternative facts. It’s not a 'he said/she said' – there’s truth, and then there’s Mr Trump."

Kerry warned: "Future generations will measure us by whether we acted on facts, not just debated or denied them. The verdict will hang on whether we put in place policies that will drive the development and deployment of clean technologies, re-energise our economies, and tackle global climate change. Every day that goes by that we’re paralysed by the Luddite in the White House is a day in the future that our grandchildren will suffer. That’s not hyperbole — that’s science."

Substitute “Mr Trump” and “White House” with “Mr Morrison” and “Lodge” and you summarise the Australian government’s stance on the climate challenge. Australia is an embarrassing global laggard, with a Prime Minister who has proudly defined himself by coal and gas. While the United Nations calls a “climate emergency”, and while 71 countries submitted more ambitious emissions plans to the Climate Ambition Summit last week, Scott Morrison sticks with our modest target for 2030, about half that recommended by Australia's Climate Change Authority.

The renewed global commitments and targets are welcome, but they still fall well short of the needs of the planet. To get even net-zero emissions by 2050, they basically need to be halved by 2030, and halved again by 2040. Some, such as former coal executive Ian Dunlop, fear the world is at its “tipping point” and needs to reach net-zero by 2030.

Read the full article on The Sydney Morning Herald website, authored by Dr John Hewson