Australian engineers and technology scientists have asked the Albanese government to as a matter of urgency, “make up for lost time” and set a target to wipe out the country’s climate footprint by 2035 – 15 years earlier than currently proposed.
The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, which represents nearly 900 leading engineers and scientists, called on the government to set a goal of reaching net zero emissions in just 12 years, arguing it could be achieved with existing mature, low-carbon technology.
According to reports, the Australian government did not have a speaking slot in a “first movers and doers” leaders session at a UN climate ambition summit in New York overnight on Wednesday as it did not put forward a significant new pledge to act on the issue. Thirty-four countries were listed to address the first movers part of the summit, but leaders of some of the world’s biggest polluting countries skipped the event.
Penny Wong who is the foreign affairs minister and assistant climate change minister, Jenny McAllister, spoke at later sessions on adaptation and decarbonisation. The director of Solutions for Climate Australia, Dr Barry Traill, said that dozens of countries had put up new pledges but Australia was missing from that list.
“We are the world’s second largest exporter of coal and the second largest exporter of liquified gas. Since the federal election the Albanese government has approved four new mines and there are 100-plus new projects in the approval line,” he said.
Speaking further, he said “In order for Australians to face a less dangerous climate we need every nation on Earth to do their share. Why would they do theirs if we do not do ours?”
Wong said that Australia had a fossil fuel intensive economy and the government’s message was that it was “genuinely motivated to change that, and that’s what we’re working on”.
“We have a very ambitious set of targets. We will be, by 2030, in excess of 80% renewable energy … that’s a big transition in a short space of time,” she said.
The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering statement said that immediate and substantial action was needed to keep alive the chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
It also said that setting a more ambitious target – the current goal is to reach net zero by 2050 – would drive technological change and spur a massive boost in clean investment across the country. The academy’s president, Dr Katherine Woodthorpe, said there was an economic opportunity that Australia was not doing enough to grasp.
“That’s really how I see this. There is an opportunity, let’s make the most of it, let’s not squander it,” she said. “Meeting this target will be a monumental challenge, but with immediate and large-scale action to invest in skills and infrastructure, as well as political, policy and regulatory support at all levels, it is achievable.”
Story was adapted from the Guardian.