While the Nationals are dragging their feet over whether they will commit to Scott Morrison’s net zero policy by 2050, Australia’s agriculture and mining sectors are already stuck with their own net zero targets.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5°C sent a dire warning about the direction of our climate, and it appears that at least some of the major players in Australia are beginning to get the message.
“All Australian states, business, agriculture and more recently the mining industry have reached a resounding consensus that responsible 2030 targets leading to net zero emissions by 2050 are not only essential , but in the national interest,” Professor Emeritus Snow Barlow of the University of Melbourne said, in a AusSMC Expert Reaction.
Professor Barlow has some experience in international climate negotiations. He was a member of the Australian delegation for the Kyoto Protocol negotiations during COP3 and COP4.
Professor Barlow says the Australian government must show courage, leadership and vision to curb climate change, saying now is “…time to put aside entrenched political positions, dogma and rhetoric in the interest of the nation and of future generations”.
The move to net zero will impact many industries, including mining, but some mining companies like BHP, Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) and, more recently, Rio Tinto have already recently committed to reducing their emissions.
Earlier this week, Rio Tinto updated its climate targets, pledging $10 billion to reduce net emissions by 15% by 2025 and 50% by 2030, with the ultimate goal of reaching zero. net by 2050.
“It’s global best practice, and it happened without the leadership of the Australian government.” Peter Newman of Curtin University told AusSMC.
“The WA government has a stated goal of net zero by 2050, but the main reason mining companies are making these transformative commitments is that global markets are demanding such a change, especially the world of finance,” a- he said, highlighting the impact of globalization. markets rather than national leadership in these decisions.
The agricultural sector is not left out by the mining sector, Professor Barlow said, with the National Farmers Federation setting a net zero target by 2050 more than a year ago.
“As a major sustainable export industry, agriculture has accepted the challenge of embracing the development of new technologies and systems to achieve net zero in the clear expectation that its access to the international market will depend on its ability to demonstrate net zero in the future,” he said. .
With some major mining companies and the agricultural sector already on board, now may really be the time.
According to Professor Newman, “The Australian government is now seriously embarrassed on the world stage and must now try to play a quick catch-up or other parts of our economy will be seriously left behind”.
This article originally appeared in Science Deadline, a weekly newsletter from the Australian Science Media Centre.