Seventy former diplomats have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers calling on the government to commit to net zero emissions by 2050 and take stronger climate action by 2030 ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November.

The former diplomats include Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Consuls-General, Consuls, humanitarian aid coordinators and a range of middle and senior level DFAT and AusAID officials.

“We are concerned that the climate is changing rapidly and without urgent action to reduce global emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, the future of life on this planet looks bleak for our children and grandchildren,” said retired Australian diplomat Richard Mathews.

“Like other groups in society – doctors, farmers, business leaders – we are adding to the growing chorus of voices calling on the government and other political parties to make more rapid and substantive commitments to act on reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.”

The group fears Australia’s lack of climate ambition will undermine strong international relationships that have been built up over decades.

It says the current lack of commitment is undermining Australia’s reliability among strategic allies, which will result in considerable economic costs.

The letter calls for an urgent acceleration in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for Australia to support its regional partners in their transition to building green economies.

The former diplomats say Australia can be at the leading edge of international action on climate change by developing its plentiful renewable energy sources and building up green industrial processes.

The letter has also been sent to the Leader of the Opposition and members of the shadow cabinet.

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