Australia is falling behind in the global fight against climate change as experts warn the time for action is almost up.
The Climate Council released a new report on Thursday labelling Australia a ‘climate laggard’ that lacked a coherent, long-term plan to tackle climate change.
Climate Council chief executive officer Amanda McKenzie said Australia had yet to develop a unified approach to reduce emissions despite the country being vulnerable to worsening heatwaves, droughts, coral bleaching and rising sea levels.
“This is a critical warning that the window of opportunity for the federal government to tackle climate change is closing,” Ms McKenzie said.
In its report the Climate Council detailed five key recommendations for Australia to help fight climate change. It comes three-quarters of the way through what has been described as the ‘critical decade’ of 2010-2020 by climate experts, and amid an ongoing debate on energy policy by the major parties.
Under the government’s new energy policy released in October, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ditched Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s proposal to have a clean energy target.
Instead, energy retailers would need to meet guarantees on reliability and emissions – but how they do it would be up to them.
Labor remains committed to a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030. Meanwhile, the UN’s 23rd climate change conference is being held in Germany, the first major conference since President Donald Trump said the US will pull out of the Paris accord unless his administration can secure a better deal.
Conference chair Fiji pleaded for the world to do more to protect its most vulnerable people.
“All over the world vast numbers of people are suffering, bewildered by the forces ranged against them,” Fiji Prime Minikster Frank Bainimarama told the conference’s opening session on Monday in Bonn, citing destructive hurricanes, fires, floods and droughts.
FIVE CLIMATE COUNCIL RECOMMENDATIONS:
* By 2020 leaders from all sides of politics adopt a unified approach to climate change that involves embracing renewable energy sources
* Australia targets a net-zero emissions by the mid-2040s
* The government revitalises the Climate Change Authority and allows it to provide independent, expert-based policy guidelines
* Provide financial support to states, territories and local governments to accelerate their own climate change plans
* Transform Australia on the global stage from a laggard to a leader