Statement from the President—Government’s net zero 2050 announcement

October 26, 2021


The Academy of Science welcomes the Government’s commitment to net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases from human activity by 2050 and is pleased to see recognition that while science and engineering alone will not deliver net zero, there is no realistic path to decarbonisation without advances in research.

Academy President Professor John Shine

We have seen how research and innovation have been vital in responding to the pandemic where the nation has witnessed the importance of convening scientific, engineering, and economic experts from academia and industry to provide rapid, relevant, timely and independent advice. The same will be essential to deliver the net zero transformation required across all sectors of the economy.

This will be an incredibly complex undertaking that will require coordination across sectors and mechanisms to stimulate technology development at scale.

Capitalising on Australia’s excellent research and innovation capabilities can drive new economic opportunities, skills, and the creation of new well-paid jobs.

The Academy stands ready to assist by providing independent scientific advice on emissions reduction to inform the detailed short- medium- and long- term plans that are needed to achieve net zero by 2050.

The IPCC shows that reaching this target is an absolute minimum if Australia is to avoid potentially insurmountable challenges to our cities, lands, coasts, industries, food and health systems and our economy.

Australians have experienced first-hand the devastating impact of record bushfires and other extreme weather events that cost lives, are a drain on the economy and impact the health and wellbeing of communities for years after each event.

As the driest inhabited continent, with many assets vulnerable to climate change, Australia has a palpable self interest in getting a global commitment to reducing emissions consistent with the Paris targets. Australia is well positioned to play its part in meeting this challenge, with a skilled workforce, strong industrial base and plentiful renewable energy resources facilitating easier emission reductions compared to many other countries.

Time is running out if we want to limit the devastating effects of climate change.

As the report of the IPCC concluded in August, every tonne of CO2 emissions adds to global warming.

Australia must strive to accelerate our transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 years to play our part in avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. This demands that Australia commits to accelerating emission reductions in the next decade as recommended by the IPCC. On the current 2030 trajectory, 1.5 degrees is unachievable.

Professor John Shine AC PresAA FRS
Australian Academy of Science


New climate change hub: a trusted source of climate science and solutions

Climate Change Hub: Science and Solutions

In the lead-up to COP26, the Academy has launched its Climate change hub: science and solutions—a single point of climate resources for policymakers, researchers and the public.

Accessible science videos, including one explaining the consequences for Australia of a 3°C warmer world, are hosted alongside more detailed scientific reports and evidence briefs, such as explaining the impact of bushfires on soil condition.

The hub also features a selection of Academy Fellows who are experts in the fields of renewable energy technologies and sea level change, as well as climate science.

Climate change hub: science and solutions

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