07 April 2022
The Australian Academy of Sciences strongly supports the message of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report – humanity has the tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt climate change catastrophic, but we must act now.
Scientific knowledge underpins solutions to respond to climate change. We have seen the incredible power of our scientific capacity to enable rapid response to crises and to protect our society during the pandemic. It’s not too late to leverage our skilled workforce, scale up existing technologies and harness our natural resources to urgently reduce emissions.
The IPCC report found that global net greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have continued to rise over the past decade and have increased across all major sectors since 2010. However, the world has made some progress, with the growth rate of emissions between 2010 and 2019 lower than the previous decade.
Australians are already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change which contributed to recent flooding in NSW and QLD, and the summer 2019-2020 bushfires. As identified in the Academy report The Risks to Australia from a 3°C Warmer World, without action these events are expected to become more frequent and intense in the future.
Without additional policy action, global warming of between 2.2 and 3.5°C is expected within the next 80 years. All countries and all sectors must act now to limit future warming by rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. We need to halve global carbon dioxide emissions over the next decade to have a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
The IPCC report shows a path and the tools to reduce our emissions in the energy, industry, cities, agriculture and transport sectors, but rapid and fundamental change is needed. Technological solutions and policy actions are needed to move to net zero and beyond to net negative emissions.
The report outlines opportunities for Australian industries that support our national interest, including energy, critical minerals and agriculture. Australia is in a strong position to capitalize on its wealth of natural resources, including essential minerals such as lithium and copper for clean energy technologies. Green steel and hydrogen are also potential export industries.
Agriculture (and land use) is a major contributor to emissions. Measures such as carbon trading, sustainable crop management, soil carbon management and biochar can improve soil fertility, provide income to farmers and reduce emissions. Conserving ecosystems such as coastal waterways and using our vast land mass for reforestation would also help.
australia cities will have to resort to solutions such as renewable energy, electrified transport and the absorption and storage of carbon by building materials to reduce emissions.
The solutions we need to do our fair share in global efforts to reduce emissions are more readily available than ever. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change on our health, economic security and environment, now and in the future, Australian leaders must act to quickly and decisively reduce emissions and deploy scientifically proven technologies that will decarbonise our nation. while creating jobs and protecting our economic prosperity. .
Professor John Shine AC PresAA FAHMS(Hon) FRS
Australian Academy of Sciences