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Australia warned that the climate crisis will “devastate” the economy if coal does not run out | Climate change

A senior UN official has warned that the climate crisis will “devastate” the Australian economy if the coal phase-out is not swift, and joined those in explicitly calling on the Morrison administration to adopt more ambitious emissions reduction targets.

In a taped address to an Australian National University forum scheduled for Monday, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General on Climate Change and Special Adviser-General to the Secretary-General, Selwin Hart, reiterated the call on OECD countries like Australia to end coal use by 2030.

Hart, a former top diplomat and climate officer for Barbados, highlighted the extent to which the Morrison administration has been isolated by defying calls to set a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2050, but said larger measures are in are just as important this decade.

He cited scientific advice that global emissions would need to be cut by 45% this decade to keep global warming within 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels and called for increased engagement ahead of the Cop26 Summit in Glasgow in November.

“National governments, responsible for 73% of global emissions, are now committed to achieving net zero by the middle of the century. We urge Australia to join them. All of the small island states in the Pacific have made this commitment, ”he said in a speech recorded for the ANU Crawford Leadership Forum.

“We welcome the 2050 net zero commitments for all states and territories in Australia. We also appreciate the strong support for the net zero 2050 targets from top companies like the National Farmers Federation, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group, as well as many of the country’s largest corporations.

“These long-term national net-zero commitments are critical, but only part of what is needed. It is important that they are supported by ambitious goals for 2030 and clear plans to achieve them, otherwise we will not see the urgently needed changes in the real economy. “

The Morrison government has set a goal of reducing emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030. The coalition opposed the advice of the Climate Change Authority, which suggested setting a target of 45-65% for that period.

As for the coal, Hart said market forces had shown their days were numbered. He said investors are increasingly giving up in favor of renewable energy, which is now cheaper in most places, “and the expectation that coal-fired power plants would be stranded accelerated the decline. But the shift is not fast enough to avert a global climate catastrophe, he said.

“We fully understand the role coal and other fossil fuels have played in the Australian economy, even if mining accounts for a small fraction – around 2% – of total jobs. But it’s important to have a wider, more honest and rational conversation about what’s in Australia’s best interests because the end result is clear, ”he said.

“If the world doesn’t get out of coal quickly, climate change will devastate the entire Australian economy – from agriculture to tourism to the entire service sector. Similar, [it will affect] Construction, housing and real estate sectors in a country where the vast majority live on or near a coast. “

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Hart’s intervention follows similar recent calls from climate leaders in the US, UK and Europe. Dr. Jonathan Pershing, deputy to US climate officer John Kerry, told Guardian Australia last month that Australia’s targets are “insufficient” and that the country should consider cutting emissions by 50% by 2030.

An Australian Conservation Foundation poll of 15,000 people released last week found that the majority of people in all federal voters believe the Morrison administration should do more to tackle the climate crisis, and some Liberal MPs – in particular Warren Dez and Jason Falinski – have called for this to be raised. The emissions target for 2030 should be raised.

But some MPs of the National are still decidedly against major climate protection measures. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said Friday we would not give in to what he called “direct bullying” on this issue.

Morrison promised a long-term emissions strategy ahead of the Glasgow summit in November but made no commitment to repeal targets or new guidelines. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg recently told Guardian Australia that progress on climate change is “behind closed doors” within the government but said he was “very happy” with the 2030 target.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley last week gave the go-ahead for the expansion of an underground coal mine north of Wollongong. It was the government’s first approval for additional coal mining since the federal court granted it a duty of care to protect young people from the climate crisis.

Hart cited an earlier demand by UN Secretary-General António Guterres that wealthy countries phase out coal by 2030 and other countries that had fewer opportunities to develop on fossil fuels stop using them by 2040.

“If this timetable were adopted, Australia would leave nearly a decade to ensure a just transition for its coal workers and others affected,” he said.

“We are at a critical point in the climate crisis. If the G20 countries, including Australia, opt for business as usual, climate change will soon set Australia’s high standard of living up in flames. If, on the other hand, countries like Australia opt for bold climate protection measures, a new wave of prosperity, jobs, fairness and sustainable economic growth is imminent. “

The latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that emissions were already affecting weather and climate extremes in all regions of the world, contributing to an increase in heat waves, increased rainfall and more intense droughts and tropical cyclones. In Australia, average land temperatures have risen by about 1.4 ° C since 1910.

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