02.12.2021Australia should increase its climate mitigation ambition

Australia’s showing at last month’s COP26 Summit in Glasgow did little to assuage the world that we are a country getting serious on climate.

Despite the pre-summit announcement that Australia would pursue a national target of net zero emissions by mid-century, the decision not to increase our ambition to 2030 raised concerns.

Such concerns belie the fact that Australia’s states and territories, and increasingly the private sector, are pursuing aggressive targets to 2030 and beyond. But failure to coordinate jurisdictional policies risks expensive resource duplication and sub-optimal results. A more demanding national target and coordinated planning is key.

Committee for Melbourne and its partners in the Committees for Cities and Regions network, released a statement last month calling for increased targets out to 2030, along with measures to assist communities economically vulnerable to decarbonisation initiatives.

With our heavy dependence on fossil fuels for export revenue and domestic consumption, achieving net zero by mid-century will be enormously difficult for Australia. Only by increasing the national emissions reduction target to 2030 will we give ourselves every chance of success.

Acting ambitiously on climate is not only good for the planet, it is in Australia’s interest. As the driest inhabited continent on earth, Australia will feel the impacts of global warming particularly harshly. We do not want the global average temperature to rise more than 1.5°Celcius.

Pursuing ambitious climate action at the federal level will restore our image as a responsible international citizen, increase our influence and solidify positive relationships with our friends in the strategically vital South Pacific, in which rising sea levels caused by global warming pose an existential threat.

A coordinated, national policy framework that emboldens ambitious action on energy and climate change could stimulate job creation, green industry development and transform Australia’s export profile.

With our natural geographic endowments, skilled workforce, technological capacity and proximity to Asian markets, Australia has the potential to become what eminent economist Ross Garnaut described as a green energy superpower.

This vision will only come to fruition with an ambitious national emission reduction target to 2030 and coordinated policymaking. As the world rapidly decarbonises, determined action to transition to renewable energy sources could help Australia meet its targets and spawn new trade and investment opportunities. View our policy brief for a snapshot of the opportunities available to Australia through renewable energy maximisation.

Recognising that the transition to net zero is complex and will require consideration of, and planning for, a broad range of initiatives, the Committee has run various energy and climate-related forums. In 2021, we have engaged some of Melbourne’s leading thinkers to explore the future of natural gas in Victoria, how we can fast-track the transition to zero emission vehicles, the investment opportunities in renewable energy, as well as decarbonisation options for businesses.

The Committee looks forward to working with our members in 2022 as we continue to advocate for energy and climate-related policy reform. For more information, Brett Van Duppen, Senior Policy and Research Officer at bvanduppen@melbourne.org.au.

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