If we continue polluting at our present rate, Australia has just six years left before we have emitted our share of the global pollution limit to keep the world below 1.5°C of warming – and even that estimate is very generous to Australia.

That’s a finding of a new report by the Stockholm Environment Institute, that says moves to increase export capacity, commission new coal mines and drill more gas wells are irreconcilable with Australia’s commitments as a signatory to the Paris Agreement.

The report, Implications for Australia of a 1.5°C future, concludes Australia must urgently transform the energy sector away from its reliance on coal.

“If we slow our rate of pollution it gives us longer than six years, but right now pollution is increasing, giving us less time and fewer options in the future,” said Australian Conservation Foundation president Geoff Cousins.

“On current evidence Australia has signed up to the Paris Agreement in name only, as our pollution levels continue to grow.

“The news for Australia is clear and urgent: allowing big new coal mines, like Adani’s proposed Carmichael project, is simply not an option if we want to keep the climate habitable – and help Australia avoid worse droughts, water shortages and bushfires.

“If Adani’s Carmichael coal mine ever goes ahead it will be the biggest coal mine ever dug in Australia and would lock in decades more climate pollution.

“Australia cannot afford new coal and must start to systematically close coal-fired power stations, boost renewable energy and help affected communities with the transition.

“At the moment Australia has a leadership vacuum when it comes to transitioning our economy away from dirty energy to clean – business is ready to move, but if we want a big slice of the clean energy investment that is available, the government needs to lead.”

The report finds while ‘negative emissions technologies’, like carbon capture and storage, may be attractive to policy makers, governments should not factor them into emissions reduction projections because of unacceptably high risks they will not be as effective as anticipated and will come with high ecological and social costs.

Stockholm Environment Institute report: Implications for Australia of a 1.5°C future

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