Despite the federal government’s commitment to coal in Australia, the nation’s states and territories are pushing back. They realize that the federal government’s energy strategy is untenable. The logic is simple, there is simply “no space” for new coal development, explained by UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres. If we are to have a hope of keeping global temperatures within the 2C upper threshold limit compared to pre-industrial times and “there is no space for new coal or unmitigated coal,” Figueres said.
The fact that the Abbott government continues to advocate for the expansion of the coal is at odds with current and future climate impacts. Australia has experienced its warmest years ever in 2013 and 2014 and models suggest the trend will continue. Meteorological models shows that Australia will see 1.3C of warming by 2030 (compared to the period between 1986 and 2005). There will also be more extreme weather including severe droughts. By 2090 Australia could warm by more than 5C compared with pre-industrial times.
Australia’s federal government is at odds with state and territory ministers’ who in a recent communique, “noted recommendations by the Climate Change Authority for a minimum 2020 reduction target of 19%, rising to 30% by 2025 in order to meet international expectations”. Efforts to combat climate change including robust emissions targets are supported by South Australia, Victoria and the new government in Queensland among others.
In the absence of responsible climate governance from the federal government, Australia’s states and territories are showing leadership.