Addressing the problem of climate change is arguably one of the greatest and most pressing moral challenges of our time. The average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased by 0.6°C in the last three decades and 1°C since pre-industrialisation and global sea levels have risen by around 3mm per year in recent decades, largely due to an increase in CO2 and other human-emitted greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The changing climate is also understood to have a range of current and potential impacts. These include an increase in the number and intensity of natural disasters, the extinction of animal and plants species, and significant implications for human health due to, for example, increased air pollution.
Australia, like nearly 200 other nations, has also committed at an international level to doing its part to address this challenge: as part of the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global temperature rise below 2.0C, it has agreed to cut its emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030.
But adopting laws and policies that can achieve these Paris goals, and effectively address the problem of climate change, is proving extremely politically challenging in the current Australian context. Concerns about energy affordability and reliability have overwhelmed recent attempts to adopt climate policies that effectively reduce Australia’s carbon footprint, and meet our Paris commitments.
This report attempts to find new ways out of this impasse, which can allow Australia effectively to achieve the goal of a 26% cut in emissions, whilst also retaining a commitment to energy reliability and affordability, especially for low-income Australians.