IPCC report - the era of dirty fossil fuels is over

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has today released its report on climate change mitigation – how to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

It follows hard on the heels an earlier report on the impacts from climate change which pointed to devastating effects on the poor and wildlife. This new mitigation report outlines what must be done if dangerous climate change is to be avoided. It represents a wake up call to the Australian governments, whose love affair with dirty fossil fuels is leading to disaster.

Here are five hard facts from the report:

  • Time to say good-bye to dirty fossil fuels - fossil fuel use is the number one problem, responsible for more than three-quarters of total greenhouse gas emissions. We are on the path to around 3.5 degrees to 6 degrees of warming by 2100. Keeping global warming below two degrees will require a rapid reduction in use of fossil fuels, for example, a reduction in carbon dioxide of 90 per cent or more from the energy supply system between 2040 and 2070. 
  • Wealthy countries need to shoulder burden of costs - wealthy countries need to transfer significant money to developing countries each year in order to help them to develop using clean low-carbon technology rather than dirty fossil fuels. Without this financial transfer poorer countries will have no choice but to use cheaper dirty fossil fuels such as coal in order to meet their population’s legitimate aspiration for higher living standards.
  • Much more should be spent on energy efficiency and low carbon energy needs - spending on energy efficiency and low carbon technology needs to be very significantly increased and spending on fossil fuels needs to decrease substantially.
  • Bioenergy has a limited role, but not done badly - bioenergy has a limited role in delivering low carbon energy but if not well regulated bioenergy deployment could increase emissions, and compromise livelihoods, food-security, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Biomass for energy, including improved cookstoves, and small scale biogas and biopower production, could reduce GHG emissions and improve livelihoods and health.
  • It is still possible to avoid dangerous climate change – remarkably given the increasing use of fossil fuels and emissions over recent decades we still have a chance of avoiding global warming of two degrees. A pathway to give a high chance of avoiding two-degrees would require rapid action in cutting emissions, plus the development of technology and approaches to remove carbon pollution from the atmosphere, plus behavioural change (for example, shifting to healthier diets). 

 

If Australian politicians are serious about protecting us from the impacts of climate change they will heed the IPCC's warnings and take action. 

The Federal government can start by amending the terms of reference of the Dick Warburton-led review of the Renewable Energy Target. 

Rather than assessing whether the 41 terrawatt target is "still appropriate," the government can instruct the review to investigate ways to quicken the pace of the renewable energy rollout between now and 2040–a period of time IPCC scientists say must be "the era of climate change responsibility."

The review of the Renewable Energy Target chaired by Dick Warburton, a businessman who Renew Economy (among other media outlets) describe as a “climate change denier,” may recommend a reduced target.

"Research shows a weakened Renewable Energy Target will result in result in 6-9 per cent more coal generation, and up to 16 per cent more gas generation. It'll cost jobs, investment and hurt Australian businesses," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth Renewables spokesperson. 

The a state level, the Napthine goverment's anti-wind farm laws prevent Victoria from developing its richest renewable energy resource.

Friends of the Earth report found the laws killed off 11 wind farm projects with a generation capacity of 438MW– enough to power almost a quarter of a million homes each year. If built, these wind farms would have abated 1.38 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum. 

"Victoria desperately needs a renewable energy strategy to reign in it's carbon emissions. While the Coalition government has been missing on this front as the state heads to the polls in November, the Labor opposition and the Greens have presented policy ideas," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth renewables spokesperson.

"Labor has pledged to "rip up" the Napthine government's anti-wind farm laws and the Greens have called for a Victorian Solar Bank help meet the state's five per cent solar target. Victorians are still waiting for the Coalition to tell them how they'll encourage renewable energy developments." 

"Recent IPCC reports remind us what's at stake and that there's still time to act and stave off dangerous climate change. It's time for Australian politicians show leadership on climate change and renewable energy."

TAKE ACTION:

  • Sign our petition calling on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to respect public opinion and protect the Renewable Energy Target from the review panel.
  • Support cleantech jobs for Victoria? Sign our petition calling on Premier Napthine to scrap Ted Baillieu’s anti-wind farm laws and both the Premier and Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews to support renewable energy.
  • Volunteer with Yes 2 Renewables and help us build a pro-renewables movement. Only when Victorians are active will the politicians get serious about renewable energy. Contact us here to express interest or email leigh.ewbank [at] foe.org.au for more information.
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