In a rare intervention in domestic politics, former UN secretary-general and architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, Ban Ki-moon, called on Australia to do more to combat climate change.
Referring to Australia’s climate targets, Ki-moon said they are insufficient and Australia is out of step with the rest of the world.
Delivering the keynote address at today’s Better Futures Forum, he said at the absolute minimum Australia must halve emissions this decade to 2030.
He also pointed to the enormous opportunities Australia has to become a renewable energy superpower.
“This is a critical year. Global heads of state are preparing to meet at the UN Climate Summit, COP26, in Glasgow in November,” Ki-moon said.
“Our planet is set on a dangerous trajectory. The world is looking to Australia to take its place amongst the international community and lift its national ambition on climate.
“The shift to a zero-carbon world is now inevitable. Australia is well placed to be a global renewable energy leader in this transition.
“There is already huge momentum for change. All Australian States are now committed to net zero emissions by 2050.”
Internationally, Australia’s major trading partners, including Japan, South Korea and China have mid century net zero targets.
In the short term, the United States, Japan, the European Union and the United Kingdom have committed to emissions reductions that are roughly two to three times as deep as Australia’s current effort.
“Australia’s current goal of a 26-28 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030, and the absence of a national zero emissions target, is out of step with its own states, its trading partners, and other comparable nations,” Ki-moon said.
“Ethically, the toll of inaction on climate is incalculable. Economically, failing to set ambitious, credible emissions targets in line with the rest of the world poses a huge threat to Australia’s future prosperity and international standing.
“Australia risks finding itself on the wrong side of carbon-border tariffs as other nations move ahead, seizing the opportunities of the zero-carbon age.
“The Federal government now has an historic opportunity to seize the moment. Australia must at least halve emissions this decade, and commit to zero by 2050.”
Also speaking at the forum was New South Wales Minister for Energy and the Environment, Matt Kean, who also called for more action.
Kean said Australia must stop being a climate laggard, and step up as a climate leader.