Sustainability

Australia must reach net zero emissions: ATSE

Australia net zero emissions
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Ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Summit in November, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) calls on the federal government to commit to and announce immediate and decisive action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Having considered the scientific evidence, and the urgency called for in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the Academy concludes that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, Australia must reach net zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest and set ambitious interim emissions targets for 2030.

The Academy notes that we do not need to wait for emerging technologies in order to achieve significant emissions reductions, because these could already be achieved through the immediate deployment of existing mature, low-carbon technologies like solar, wind and energy storage (batteries and pumped hydro), combined with electrification of transport and sustainably designed buildings. Indeed, Australia has the potential to be among the world’s leading nations in renewable energy generation, low-emission and negative-emission technologies.

ATSE President Professor Hugh Bradlow said a firm commitment to net zero, clear targets and a plan to achieve them would pave the way for large-scale infrastructure rollout and provide certainty for industry and investment.

“A 50% emissions reduction by 2030 would set a clear course for net zero emissions by 2050. It’s also realistically achievable, based on the technology already available,” Prof Bradlow said.

“To meet the more ambitious targets we’re calling for, the Australian Government must develop a plan and solid policy framework to guide and coordinate the deployment of low-emissions technology as soon as possible.”

Dr John Söderbaum, Chair of ATSE’s Energy Forum, said relying on market forces, or Australia’s current ‘business as usual’ approach, is not a realistic option.

“Australia’s global trading partners view our current 2030 emissions target as manifestly inadequate and completely out of step with their own commitments,” Dr Söderbaum said.

“Trading partners will inevitably apply increasing commercial pressure if we fail to set more ambitious targets.

“The technology needed for Australia to transition to a net zero emissions economy already exists. What’s more, we are well placed to capture significant economic opportunities as we make that transition.”

ATSE’s full statement on Australia’s technology-led transition to net zero emissions can be found at www.atse.org.au/NetZeroTech.

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