Overnight, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report on the climate solutions the world can and must take now, if we are to have a chance at a safe and healthy future.

The IPCC’s Mitigation of Climate Change report shows that while the need for action is greater than ever before, so too are the opportunities to rapidly and affordably cut pollution.

Australia must embrace these solutions and rapidly move away from coal and gas, rather than expanding the polluting coal and gas industry.

Australia is already paying a high price for climate damage through devastating floods, droughts and increasingly ferocious bushfires.

For a safe future, we need bold climate action with the solutions that are here, now.

Here are five big solutions that will slash climate pollution by more than half this decade – and protect the people and places we love, for generations to come.

1. Send our sunshine around the world

With abundant solar and wind resources and access to critical minerals like lithium and copper, we have a unique opportunity to power our own lives with renewable energy – and provide clean energy to the rest of the world.

Australia is currently one of the world’s largest exporters of polluting coal and gas. But as our major trading partners and allies aim for net zero emissions, demand for coal and gas is declining.

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Kidston Solar Project, QLD. Photo: Geoff Hunter / Kidston, Genex Power

By replacing coal, gas and uranium with renewable energy and producing goods with renewable energy, we have the opportunity to create thriving clean exports industries.

We can use existing industrial zones to create economic opportunities in green aluminium and steel, renewable hydrogen and ammonia, or exporting renewable energy directly via undersea cables.

2. Create energy-independent communities

The Australian government should commit to powering schools, hospitals, government offices, public and social housing, remote Indigenous communities, sporting clubs, halls and libraries with affordable, clean energy by 2025.

Wind, solar and storage technologies are by far the cheapest forms of electricity for Australia, so by helping communities make the switch, Australia can cut pollution and electricity bills at the same time.

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A solar powered community hall in Yambuk, VIC. Photo: Damien Goodman.

This will help ease financial stress particularly for the most vulnerable Australians, including those living in social and public housing, and in remote Indigenous communities.

Doing so will also create 44,000 new jobs, many in regional and rural Australia.

3. Travel clean

Transport is one of Australia’s biggest sources of climate pollution, so cleaning up our travel will make a big difference.

Sustainable, zero emission transport solutions are available today – and are the way of the future.

Sixteen countries (and major economies like California) have announced plans to ban the sale of fossil fuelled vehicles. ² Thirty-five global cities will only buy zero emissions buses from 2025, including London, Los Angeles, Austin, Auckland and Moscow.

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Photo: Elke Kerr/ACF.

Car companies are phasing out fossil fuelled cars – Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Bentley and Mini have made commitments to only make electric vehicles by 2030.

Australia needs to accelerate the rollout of electric cars, trucks and buses, and invest in infrastructure and services to support a shift to more sustainable travel modes like public transport, cycling, walking and rail and electric or renewable hydrogen powered freight.

In doing so we can cut Australia’s climate pollution by around 100 million tonnes a year – plus reduce transport costs, congestion, and harmful air and noise pollution.

4. Save our big backyard

Our forests, wetlands and bushlands provide homes for our unique animals, and are places where people relax and revive.

But did you know protecting these places also helps keep down climate pollution?

Our big old trees store a lot of greenhouse gases. When forests are logged and burnt, massive amounts of greenhouse gas are released into the air from the trees and soil and it takes generations to be captured again in regrowth forests.

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Cowie Beach, Cape Tribulation. Photo: Kerry Trapnell.

Along our coastlines, ecosystems like wetlands, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests store even more carbon than tropical rainforests. Plus, they help protect coastal communities, wildlife and habitats from threats such as flooding, storm surges and coastal inundation.

Right now, however, many of our important ecosystems are collapsing as a result of climate change and habitat destruction.

To protect our big backyard – and our climate – our government must create strong national nature protection laws, and ensure they are enforced by an independent regulator.

5. Move the money

Australia’s financial institutions manage trillions of dollars in investments. Too many are fuelling the climate crisis by funding polluting coal, gas and nuclear projects.

Meanwhile, our political parties continue to accept dirty donations from – and give public funding to – coal and gas companies.

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Australians are calling on the big banks to stop funding coal and gas. Photo: Matt Hrkac

For a safe and healthy future, Australia’s banks and super funds must move our money away from the coal and gas industries, toward climate solutions like clean, renewable-powered industries and jobs.

And our political parties must reduce the influence of money in politics by banning big donations.

In doing so, we can cut pollution, speed up our energy transition, and make our democracy stronger – ensuring elected representatives are acting for people and the planet.

Australian Conservation Foundation

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