Open letter on targets

As global pressure builds and the government considers its post 2020 climate targets, a diverse and unprecedented alliance of more than 50 civil society groups are calling on parliamentarians to commit to zero carbon pollution in Australia by 2050 at the latest.

In an open letter, the groups state that “Australia and Australian people stand to lose so much from the impacts of climate change; it is in our national interest to be amongst the leading nations to ensure the world limits warming to well below 2 degrees. A zero carbon pollution future is possible, and it is all of our responsibility to make that future a reality for our children, and their children.”

The groups include representatives from environmental, aid, legal, health, union, farming, social services and religious sectors, signalling the broad implications of climate change in Australia, but also the potential to unlock major new economic opportunities.

 

Check the bottom of this page for a copy of the letter.

 

We urgently need our federal government to take meaningful action on climate change.

FoE has signed the letter but holds deep concerns about any attempt to achieve net zero emissions.

Net zero refers to a situation where the total input of emissions into the atmosphere in a given year minus the emissions removed from the atmosphere equals zero.

This means that if we have technologies that ‘suck’ emissions out of the atmosphere we can continue burning fossil fuels – potentially becoming a license to carry on in a business as usual scenario. It is potentially a green light to geo-engineering, or could lead to a massive explosion of bio-energy production that would result in huge land grabs.

Most of the technologies aimed at meeting net zero targets require the use of land on a vast scale to grow ‘biomass’ (such as biofuel or tree plantations) which draw carbon from the air, and can then be burned for fuel or to produce charcoal for carbon sequestration in soil.

Studies from the IPCC Working Group (III report, Chapter 6) suggest up to 6 billion hectares of land would be required for the scale of reductions proposed. Current total crop production globally uses just 1.5 billion hectares, so we would need to use the equivalent land space currently used by all food crops on Earth four times over. There are obvious negative biodiversity impacts of expanding agricultural activity to meet biofuel needs.

According to Climate Justice info:

 

We believe that net zero simply gives countries a continued license to pollute. Secondly it doesn't differentiate between developed and developing countries as to who needs to cut emissions and when.

 

Net Zero” Leads to Dangerous Technologies

Proponents of ‘net zero’, including some scientific institutions, along with some corporations, like Unilever, and business figures like Richard Branson, who are pushing ‘net zero’ emissions, rely on modelling that includes technology such as:

 

Carbon-capture and storage

- capturing CO2 at source (before it enters the atmosphere) and storing it in the oceans or in terrestrial geologic formations. This is potentially dangerous from an environmental perspective, as an accidental and/or sudden release of stored CO2 could provoke climate disruptions. Commercial scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) is not yet available and is likely to be incredibly expensive.

 

Agrofuels/biofuels

- fuels made from agricultural crops, and which can be used to fuel cars and other transport. The rush for biofuels is fuelling hunger by pushing up global food prices, and causing land grabbing in poor countries.

 

Biochar

planting huge quantities of biomass (often resulting in the displacement of crops for human consumption and other uses of land), and burning it by pyrolysis (low oxygen environment), then burying the concentrated carbon in the soil.

 

BECCS (BioEnergy Carbon Capture and Storage)

planting a huge amount of grass and trees, burning the biomass to generate electricity, capturing the CO2 that is emitted and pumping it into geological reservoirs underground.