The latest launch by Climateworks Australia, the Decarbonisation Futures report, builds on previous modelling to show that pathways to zero emissions by 2050 remain open, with new technology enabling Australia to achieve an outcome compatible with a global temperature rise of under 1.5 degrees.  Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this work is being looked at in a new light – as a way to rebuild Australia’s economy in a climate-friendly fashion.

Our CEO Anna Skarbek spoke to the Guardian’s Adam Morton as part of his 1500 word feature summarising the report and its conclusions: ‘We spent 18 months examining each part of the Australian economy in detail,’ she explained, ‘to consider what would be involved in getting there. The resulting report, Decarbonisation Futures, is an update of similar work in 2014. It found net-zero emissions were possible not just by mid-century but by 2035 – soon enough for Australia to play its part in an effort to limit global heating to 1.5C.’ 

In the same article, Amandine Denis-Ryan, head of the National team, stressed that emerging solutions could be found even for heavy industry, agriculture and the land.

‘The report reveals both what is possible and the urgency of the task.’

Amandine Denis-Ryan

Achieving the Paris goals would, she said, require national emissions being cut in half by 2030 at the latest. ‘We now know we have enough technological capacity in the Australian economy to get there. But we need to get these technologies out the door at every opportunity.’

Decarbonisation Futures spurred the Age to publish a substantial piece on how climate action means a ‘double win’ for a post-coronavirus economy, with decarbonisation facilitating the economic stimulus necessary in the wake of the pandemic. In that article, Anna described the green ‘shovel-ready’ solutions to be deployed in waste management, energy efficiency and power generation, solutions that would foster both carbon reduction and economic growth. ‘Let’s do that in a way that locks in zero-emissions buildings and infrastructure and supply chains,’ she said, ‘and importantly doesn’t lock out the chance to halve emissions in the next decade.’

In another feature for the Age, Nick O’Malley and Mick Foley described economic reconstruction after the pandemic as ‘the new front line of the climate war’. They also cited Anna, quoting her on how wise expenditure means governments can decarbonise even more quickly than they had expected. ‘The flipside is that if they don’t, it is a double negative,’ she told them.

The Australian Financial Review took a similar approach, discussing Decarbonisation Futures in an analysis of how  Australia can use the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic to help reach net zero emissions by 2050, while Renew Economy described how the country has ‘the technological wherewithal it needs to get cracking on economy-wide decarbonisation in line with keeping global warming at or below 1.5°C’. 

Elsewhere, Suzanne Toumbourou, Executive director at ASBEC, talked about climate targets amidst COVID-19 with Infrastructure magazine and explained how infrastructure has a huge role to play in our carbon future to The Fifth Estate. To cap off a huge week, that publication also featured an extended discussion of research released by ASBEC and Climateworks in conjunction with the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA).