Sunday, 29 March 2020


The “climate wars” are far from over in Australia.  The Labor Party’s commitment to a zero net emissions target for 2050 has predicably drawn fire from the Federal Government which claims that the cost of this is too great. 

Again, predictably, the Federal Government forgets that the 2050 target is regarded as necessary by the IPCC scientists to keep temperature increases below three degrees Celsius. Also it does not appear to understand – again predictably – that there is a cost, which is likely to be very great, of doing nothing. 

 Furthermore it does not appear to recognise that all Australian State Governments have already committed to the 2050 target and will be doing the heavy lifting while it continues on its mindless do-nothing path.

Leading businesses are already committing to a 2050 zero net emissions target.  A recent example is global resources giant Rio Tinto. It plans to spend US$1 billion over the next 5 years to reduce its carbon emissions and is committed to a 15% reduction of current emissions by 2030.

Rio’s CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques gave the example of what was planned for one of its Pilbara operations. An investment of around US$100 million would provide a 34 MW solar photovoltaic plant and a battery system of 12 MW per hour storage system.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, speaking at an Informa conference of energy executives,  strongly criticised the Canberra political debate about net zero emissions saying it was false and misleading because the target was not something that was optional.

He said, “The fires of this last summer will seem like a very, very mild experience compared to what a three degrees Celsius (warmer) world will look like.”

He believes we have the engineering and economics to move to a zero emissions energy sector which will deliver cheaper and cleaner and reliable energy.

Moving to zero net emissions obviously relies on other sectors of the economy such as transport and agriculture as well as energy. 

The pressure on the Federal Government to take effective action in the national interest will continue to increase in coming months.

            - Leonie Blain

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on March 2,  2020.