Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent announcement on the Central Coast that his government will spend a total of $539 million on five hydrogen hubs and carbon capture projects will not be sufficient to handle the climate emergency.
Climate Future Chair, Mr Richard Weller, said “We do need a hydrogen industry and other new green products and energy to stay relevant in the new carbon-free economy and we must support the idea of finding new employment for those currently working in the fossil fuel industry.
“But Mr Morrison's proposal won’t be sufficient to handle the climate emergency,” Mr Weller said.
“US President Joe Biden has set a target of 50% emission reductions by 2030,” he said. “The UK is even more ambitious at 78% below 1990 levels by 2035. Many countries have targets of net zero by 2050.
“The current policies of our Government are simply not enough. Since 1990, Australia’s emissions have risen from 425 MtCO2e/y to 555, up 25% (not including land use and forestry).
“Our emissions rank us 15th of all the world’s nations while per capita we are worse, emitting more per person than any other major developed country. These numbers do not include what we export, such as our coal which is burned overseas.”
Mr Weller said Australia produces more CO2 than the UK which has 2.5 times our population.
“They have reduced their emissions by 45% since 1990 (800 to 450 MtCO2e/y) while we stood by and claimed special treatment.
“If we don’t take urgent action this decade, we will be left behind by the rest of the world with a stranded economy and collapsing employment. We have the best solar resources in the world and could be the largest energy producer of renewables - a ‘powerhouse’ if you like – but this requires the right support by our government for the necessary investment.
“To keep up with the USA, we would need to replace our entire energy production system with renewables by 2030 and electrify our transport fleet as well,” Mr Weller said.
This is still feasible according to Climate Future, a committee of the Community Environment Network (CEN) formed to promote action on climate change.
“If we start immediately, we can minimise the disruption to our economy but we need the Federal Government to drive this change”, said Mr Weller. “Neither of the major parties currently have sufficient ambition for the change necessary and we as voters need to galvanise this ambition.
“The scientists are saying that time is running out. Urgency should be the call of the day. The world has a carbon budget and we are fast using it up. Each year we delay means the targets must be harsher.
“If we don’t start till 2025, the target for 2030 must be much tighter again. This is the legacy of our governments' decisions over the last 30 years.
“We must convince our representatives – our federal parliamentarians, Lucy Wicks, Emma McBride and Senator Deborah O’Neill - that even more action is needed.
“The consequences of not taking action are already with us and will escalate with each year. COVID will be nothing compared to the impacts of more than 2C of warming if we continue to fail to act.”