Environmental groups say Australia cannot afford to lose another decade to climate policy paralysis following the publication of the latest United Nations inquiry into global warming.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that Australia and other developed countries must achieve net zero emissions years sooner than promised.
The full summary of climate science submissions over several years says there is still a long shot of avoiding the worst effects of climate change, but more needs to be done, and faster.
The federal government’s response to the crisis currently revolves around backstop legislation before Parliament, which targets the nation’s 215 largest emitters and aims to reduce emissions by 205 million tons by 2030.
However, the Australian Conservation Foundation says the cost of Australia’s inaction continues to be felt through devastating floods, coastal erosion, longer droughts and increasingly ferocious bushfires.
“This report sends a clear and urgent message to the Australian parliament: strengthen and pass the backstop, then find a way to stop funding and approve new coal and gas projects in this period,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The Albanian government should accept the proposed reasonable amendments to strengthen the safeguard mechanism, so that it becomes an effective tool to reduce emissions.”
Dr Stephanie Rowe, from the World Wide Fund for Nature, said that with current emissions still at the highest level in human history, the window to limit warming to 1.5C was closing fast.
“The sooner and more decisively we act, the sooner people and nature can reap the benefits of a cleaner, safer and more stable future,” he said.
“We have all the tools we need, so it is within our power to meet this challenge if we act now.”
Greenpeace described the report as “a sobering warning about the state and trajectory of climate change.”