The Australian Government has received the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment (Draft) Report – along with 194 other IPCC member countries.
The leading international body for climate change assessment, the IPCC was originally established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation. The Council, which continues to be backed by the UN, is an authoritative voice on the topic of climate change, with thousands of scientists from across the globe contributing to the research and insights it provides.
In the draft of its fifth report, designed to help guide and inform Governments and policy makers on climate change using scientific evidence, there’s a strong message about the need to cut carbon emissions.
Though the report (last released in 2007) will not be publically unveiled until November, the draft version has been leaked to the media. This will be the last of four parts released between September 2013 and November 2014.
Amongst its pages, the report highlights the long-term damage and increasing risk that greenhouse gases and the rising temperature of the planet is causing. The report doesn’t just focus on what may come, but also what’s already happening, including extreme weather and ecosystem damage that’s being witnessed now.
The IPCC identifies renewable energy as a significant part of the plan to reverse this worrying trend, advocating for widespread adoption of clean electricity ahead of polluting alternatives such as coal.
This is of course far removed from the agenda of the recent Warburton Review on the Renewable Energy Target – one of Australia’s most prominent policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Compiled by a hand-picked panel, the Warburton Review has provided little insight into the risks and challenges presented by climate change and focuses instead on reaching the Australian government’s current 5% emission reduction target from 2000 levels for 2020.
This miniscule target not only seems insufficient when viewed in isolation, but pales in significance against the example being set by many other countries around the world.
With evidence-based reports such as that of IPCC clearly demonstrating the need to act strongly on climate change, is Australia really doing enough or are we going backwards?
In July, Australia became the first developed nation to repeal its own carbon tax legislation and now with talks to abolish the RET – with no clear replacement in sight, including the still largely unclear Abbott Government ‘Direct Action Plan’, anxiety is rising over the future of power in Australia.
In 2009, Australia, along with numerous other countries around the world, made a commitment to prevent global warming from reaching over 2C. The upcoming IPCC report suggests that the world is set to exceed this point. As we continue to see climate change action from countries such as China, America, Canada, India, the EU and others, we hope that Australia won’t be left behind nor seen as ‘turning a blind eye’ to this growing global predicament.