The Climate Council of Australia has called on the Federal Government to immediately ramp up its responses to climate change following the release of the latest State of the Environment report.
The report, released this morning, paints a grim picture for Australia and the planet as a whole.
It identifies climate change as a key driving force behind unprecedented environmental decline, species extinction and extreme weather events over the past five years.
‘Australia has paid a heavy price for more than a decade of climate inaction from the previous Government, with a “poor and deteriorating” outlook for our irreplaceable environment, ecosystems and species,’ said Amanda McKenzie, CEO, Climate Council.
‘The report is unequivocal that rapid and deep cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions can help protect our environment,’ Ms McKenzie said.
‘Australia’s high greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to the decline of our environment. After almost a decade of ‘lost years’ of inaction, there is no more time to waste. We must rapidly drive down emissions this decade and immediately stop the expansion of new coal and gas projects,’ added Ms McKenzie.
The Climate Council recommends that Australia:
- Reduce emissions by 75 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2035.
- Stop all new coal and gas projects and phase out existing reliance on fossil fuels
- Ensure all environmental assessments of new gas and coal projects are responsible and evidence-based, and include scope three emissions from all projects.
Economist and Climate Councillor, Nicki Hutley said: ‘The decline of our environment is an ecological and economic disaster. Australia’s species, ecosystems and natural resources are the environmental capital upon which the prosperity of future generations depends.’
‘Whether it’s biodiversity restoration, ecosystem resilience, or the rapid investments in clean energy required to deliver the urgent emissions cuts this decade, funding for environmental protection can result in trillions of dollars of avoided damage.
‘Past and current policies have failed to protect our precious environment, and must change. As a key first step, Australia’s main environmental law—the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act—must consider the impacts of climate change when considering new coal and gas projects for approval,’ said Ms Hutley.
Kate Charlesworth, public health physician and Climate Councillor, added: ‘Smoke pollution from bushfires, the spread of mould and vector-borne diseases after multiple floods, and the impact of floods and drought on our food security all highlight the serious consequences of environmental deterioration, exacerbated by climate change, on our health and well-being.’
‘The enormous physical and mental health benefits of interacting with nature are also well-documented. We need immediate action to restore the health of our ecosystem, starting with an immediate ban on new coal and gas projects and rapid emissions cuts this decade,’ said Dr Charlesworth.