Australia and the world should be aiming to limit global warming to just 1.5°C, instead of the current weaker target of 2°C, the Greens have said, ahead of attending the Paris climate summit in a few weeks’ time.
Greens leader Richard di Natale told reporters on Tuesday that the Party had unanimously resolved to adopt the 1.5°C target at its National Conference over the weekend.
He said that he and Deputy Leader Larissa Waters would push for broader adoption of the “new ambition” in Paris, when they attended the UN climate talks in December.
It already has the support of the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, who last month told an audience of carbon traders: “Two degrees is not enough – we should be thinking of 1.5C. If we are not headed to 1.5 we are in big, big trouble.”
She said she had the support of the group of about 40 small island states – many of which are in danger of disappearing as sea levels rise – as well as most African countries and other least developed countries.
“More than 100 countries have made this call,” Senator Di Natale said on Tuesday. “Australia actually has the capacity to help achieve it.
“We won’t do it if both Liberal and Labor push ahead with new coal mines. We won’t do it by taking Tony Abbott’s pathetic targets to Paris.
“Right now, with just 0.85 degrees of warming, we’ve just had Australia’s hottest month on record and the Victorian bushfire season has started dangerously early.
“Declaring this new ambition is what the science says is required to protect our health, our environment and the global economy,” Senator Di Natale said.
Senator Waters, who is the Greens’ climate spokesperson, said 2°C degrees of average warming could destroy entire Pacific nations and would wipe out almost 100 per cent of all coral reefs, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
And she noted that Australia’s current climate policy didn’t even measure up to the 2°C target.
“The Turnbull Government’s targets are less than half of those the Climate Change Authority recommends to give a two thirds chance of staying within 2°C.
“It’s clear Tony Abbott’s targets, which Malcolm Turnbull is sticking with, are not enough to save our Pacific island neighbours’ homes or our Great Barrier Reef, let alone to protect Australians’ way of life.”
Senator Waters will attend the first week of COP21 in Paris and Senator Di Natale will attend the second week.