Community action group GetUp has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Federal government to take urgent action on Climate Change and end Australia’s reliance on coal.
Citing a recently released report by the Climate Council of Australia which claims the frequency and ferocity of severe thunderstorms is increasing due to climate change, both GetUp and the Climate Council say now is the time for the government to act.
The council’s Storms Report states that the annual frequency of potential severe thunderstorm days is likely to rise by 14 per cent for the greater Brisbane area by the end of the century.
Key findings in the report by professor Will Steffen and Dr David Alexander are that climate change is fuelling more intense and damaging storms, climate change will continue to exacerbate storms in Australia – increasing the risk of devastating impacts, and without strong action on climate change, storms and other extreme weather events will continue to become more intense and damaging.
Temperature records have increasingly been shattered over the last few years which according to the report is leading to more destructive weather events, through a atmosphere that is energetically super charged as it contains more water vapour, which is increasing at rate of seven per cent for every one degree of warming.
Federal member for Wright Scott Buchholz said the government is committed to action on climate change, refuting a claim in the report that Australia’s contribution to the Paris agreement of 2015 to limit global warming to below two degrees is ‘weak’ and that under current policies the government is unlikely to meet its Paris target.
“Through the Paris Agreement, Australia will reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This reduction is one of the highest in the G20 on a per capita basis. Australia has a strong track record on reducing emissions having beat our first Kyoto target by 128 million tonnes,” he said.
“We are already seeing a transition to more renewables as part of our energy mix. By 2020 more than 23 per cent of electricity generated will come from renewables.
“We’ve seen eight out of our 12 most emission intensive power stations close in the last five or so years. All of those have been coal.”
Forde MP Bert van Manen also disagreed with the claim by the council that Australia was not on track to reach current targets under current policies.
“We are also on track to beat our second Kyoto target by 78 million tonnes,” he said.
“Australia’s policy is to meet our international commitments on emission reduction, while at the same time maintaining energy security and affordability.”
However Climate Council professor Will Steffan rejected Mr van Manen’s claim Australia was on track.
"The UN has found that, based on Australia's own submitted data, Australia is not on track to meet its 2020 target and in fact, emissions will be 11 per cent higher in 2020 based on 1990 levels,” he said.
"Given that Australia's target is woefully low and Australians are already being severely affected by climate change through increased extreme weather events such as heatwaves, bushfires and drought, this is unacceptable.”
A spokesperson for Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenburg said Australia’s take up of solar was the highest in the world.
“Already 15 per cent of our households use solar energy, the highest proportion in the world,” the spokesperson said.
“Energy security is non-negotiable and the Australian Government is unapologetic in making it our foremost priority.”
Professor Steffan said the council was adamant that Australia could and should be doing more in terms of large scale renewable energy and combating climate change.
"Australia is also failing to make the grade on renewable energy. Australia's renewable energy industry has struggled to recover from years of policy uncertainty brought about by the review and subsequent cut to the Renewable Energy Target. And despite being one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world, we have very low levels of renewable energy.
"To do its fair share in limiting global temperature rise to well below two degrees, Australia must have a minimum of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
“Independent economic modelling has shown this will create 28,000 additional jobs nationally. We need policies which will bring about the urgent but orderly closure of our ageing, inefficient and coal-fired power stations and make way for modern, clean and efficient renewables."
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