Australia set to reach net zero by 2040, says new member of Climate Change Authority | Climate crisis

A new scientific member of the government’s new Climate Change Authority has said Australia should aim to reach net zero at least a decade before 2050.

Professor Lesley Hughes, a biologist and climate change expert, said Australia’s current climate target for 2030 was “not good enough”, but said the new government was showing a willingness to listen to science .

Hughes is one of three new female appointments announced by Energy Minister Chris Bowen earlier this week to address concerns from the authority’s board of directors that weighed too heavily on corporations and fossil fuels.

The Albanian government has legislated a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, based on 2005 levels – an increase from the Morrison government’s 26% reduction.

Under this legislation, the authority will produce an annual parliamentary statement and advise on future emission reduction targets. This opinion must be made public and, if it is rejected, the minister must say why.

Hughes, who is set to retire from his full-time academic role at Macquarie University, said the government’s current 2030 target was “not good enough” and said that thanks to her work at the Climate Council, she had called for a 75% reduction. within a decade.

She told the Guardian: ‘But you have to get to 43% first and that’s a significant improvement on the previous government’s commitment. I will work hard to reach that 43% and beyond as quickly as possible. »

She said the Climate Council Aim high, go fast The report, published last year, said Australia should aim for net zero by 2035 or 2040 “to do our fair share of staying well below 2C”.

“That would be a great goal. [for Australia],” she says.

“Science indicates net zero by 2050 is too late to stay well below 2C [the target agreed in Paris]. But it is a process and I hope it is a process that is accelerating.

She said Australia’s continued approval of coal and gas projects, many of which are for export with the fuels burned overseas, was “a real cognitive dissonance”.

“The shows don’t know the jurisdictions of the countries and it’s the global shows that matter. I think it is reasonable for countries to look at domestic emissions first.

“But certainly, globally, we won’t stay below 2C as huge amounts of fossil fuels are burned.”

Having already submitted the new target to the UN climate convention earlier this year, the government will need to set a target for 2035 by 2025. The Climate Change Authority will make a recommendation on what that target should be.

New authority

In 2014, the authority recommended that Australia reduce its emissions by 45% to 65% by 2030, based on 2005 levels. The Abbott government ignored this advice, adopting a 26% reduction to 28% in 2015 – a target which remained unchanged until Labor won this year’s federal election.

The Abbott government tried to abolish the authority, but failed after then-Senator Clive Palmer told a press conference with former US Vice President Al Gore that he would block this attempt.

Abbott succeeded in abolishing the Climate Commission’s advisory body, leading its members – including Hughes – to go it alone and create a new independent organization, the Climate Council.

In early 2017, three members of the authority’s board – economist Danny Price, economics professor John Quiggin and public ethics professor Clive Hamilton – resigned in frustration.

The last climatologist to hold a place on the authority was Professor David Karoly, who completed his five-year term in 2017.

After spending years in a relative desert, the authority has new members and new responsibilities under the Albanian government.

Hughes joins two other new members, Dr. Virginia Marshall, legal researcher and indigenous water rights expert, and Sam Mostyn, businesswoman and sustainability advisor.

The nine-member board is chaired by former Business Council of Australia and Origin director Grant King, and includes the government’s chief scientist, Dr Cathy Foley.

Hughes said she was personally called by Energy Minister Chris Bowen to ask if she would be willing to take on the role of authority.

“I would not have said yes without thinking that there is a change of atmosphere and a willingness to listen to science.

“The next few years are crucial and an opportunity like this to scale up my involvement beyond the Climate Council – which I will always be involved with – was something I couldn’t say no to.”

She said as the only climate scientist on the authority “I’ve felt the pressure a bit, but I will absolutely do what I can. It’s an important responsibility.

The first meeting of the body with its new members is scheduled for mid-October.

Hughes made his decision to retire from college before he took the phone call from the Minister of Energy.

“So much for the quiet retreat,” she added.

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