20 August 2021
Dear Prime Minister Morrison
An open letter from the Better Futures Australia community – the time for credible climate action is now
We are writing to you as Australian leaders from every sector of the economy and society – First Nations, finance and faith, cities and states, business big and small, agriculture, resources and energy, health and social service, unions, think tanks, and higher education.
While we are diverse, we collectively represent more than seven million Australians. We are coming together at this week's Better Futures Forum united in our determination to act on climate change, and we are rising to the challenge, and opportunities, it presents.
Like other Australians, we are ready to work in partnership with your government to transition from fossil fuels in a fair and orderly way that leaves no one behind, build a thriving economy and cohesive communities, and enjoy flourishing ecosystems, clean air, and better health. And take advantage of the incredible opportunities our nation has to create sustainable jobs, attract investment, regenerate industries and communities, and make Australia – the sunniest nation on earth – a renewable energy superpower.
Many of us are already demonstrating climate solutions underway in our sectors – through best-practice agriculture, by turbocharging statewide renewable energy zones, committing to city-wide 100% renewable energy goals, decarbonising investment portfolios in the trillions, developing ethical zero-carbon lithium mining for EV batteries, crafting national strategies on climate and health, showcasing how Indigenous Knowledge Systems heal country, and more.
Our nation now faces a pivotal moment as heads of state prepare to meet at the UN Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow in November, where they will make emissions reduction pledges. You are one of these leaders, and you have an historic opportunity to seize the moment and step up Australia’s climate ambition.
Australia’s goal of a 26-28% reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 and the absence of a national zero emissions target is out of step with the States and Territories, our trading partners, and other nations. It is insufficient to meet the Paris Agreement goal of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees.
The United States will halve its emissions by 2030, Japan will reduce emissions 46% by 2030 on 2013 levels, and the UK will cut emissions 78% by 2035. The European Union will reduce emissions 55% by 2030 on 1990 levels. Our major trading partners South Korea and China, have mid century net zero targets.
Australian corporations with tens of billions in market capitalisation have adopted near-term targets for 100% renewable energy. Australia’s leading investors are committed to a zero emissions economy.
The increasing ambition of States’ and Territories’ 2030 targets, alongside their shared commitment to net zero emissions by or before 2050 demonstrates that with national leadership, Australia can do our fair share under the Paris Agreement to keep warming to 1.5 degrees.
The shift from fossil fuels is inevitable, and the momentum unstoppable. Without further ambition on its part, Australia will face increasing isolation and diminishing markets for its resources. Carbon border adjustments will harm Australia’s economy, as other nations race ahead, realising the opportunities for investment in the zero-carbon age.
To meet the obligations in the Paris Agreement – and protect the wellbeing of the Australian people, our magnificent ecosystems, and our economic security – Australia must establish a clear pathway to transition our economy to a zero emissions future. The most important step is what we do in this decisive decade. Australian commitments must, at the very least, match those by our allies in the US, the EU and the UK.
Your leadership in delivering a step change to Australia’s emissions reduction commitments is crucial if we are to forge the path to a better, healthier, just and more prosperous future for all – a future that is within our reach in this remarkable country that we share.
The course of history, and the legacy we leave our children, is in your hands, Prime Minister. We are moving ahead, and we need your support. The time to act is now.