A new scientific member of the government’s revamped Climate Change Authority, Prof Lesley Hughes has advised that Australia should aim to achieve net zero at least a decade earlier than 2050.
Hughes, who is a biologist and climate change specialist, said that Australia’s current climate target for 2030 was “not good enough” but said that the new government was showing a willingness to listen to the science.
Hughes is one of three new female appointments that was announced by energy minister Chris Bowen earlier this week to address concerns the authority’s board was weighed too heavily on business and fossil fuels.
Reports show that the Albanese government had legislated a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, based on 2005 levels – an increase on the Morrison government’s 26% cut.
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The authority, under the legislation, is expected to produce an annual parliamentary statement and advise on future emissions reduction targets. That advice will have to be made public and, if it is rejected, the minister must say why.
In her reaction, Hughes said that the government’s current 2030 target was “not good enough” adding that through her work at the Climate Council, she had called for a 75% cut within a decade.
“But you do have to get to 43% first and that is a significant improvement on the previous government’s commitment. I will be working hard to get to that 43% and beyond as quickly as possible.” she was quoted as saying.
She recalled that the Climate Council’s Aim High, Go Fast report, released last year, had indicated Australia should be looking towards net zero by 2035 or 2040 “to do our fair share of staying well below 2C”.
“That would be a great target [for Australia],” she said. “The science indicates that net zero by 2050 is too late to stay well below 2C [the target agreed in Paris]. But it’s a process and I hope it’s an accelerating process.”
She regretted that Australia’s continued approval of coal and gas projects, many geared for export with the fuels burned overseas, was “a real cognitive dissonance”.
“Emissions don’t know country jurisdictions and its global emissions that count. I think it’s reasonable that countries look at domestic emissions first,” she said. “But certainly, globally, we won’t stay below 2C while huge amounts of fossil fuels are being burned.”
Story was adapted from the Guardian.