The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published its Working Group III report, providing a global assessment of efforts to mitigate climate change.

The report shows that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is possible.

But it says to meet that target ‘rapid and deep and in most cases immediate’ emission reductions are needed. Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest, and reduce by 43 per cent by 2030.

So what action might be needed in our region to make that happen?

Big opportunities in Southeast Asia and the Pacific

Climateworks Centre works in Southeast Asia, where there is the chance to be at the forefront of decarbonisation globally, and the Pacific, which is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Vietnam and Indonesia, two countries of focus for Climateworks, had rapid increases in GHG emissions between 2010 and 2019, according to last week’s IPCC report.

But the good news is both countries have signed on to net zero – along with most other ASEAN countries – and are making huge investments in renewable energy.

Climateworks is supporting the region to build on this momentum to demonstrate how sustainable, decarbonised economic growth is the best way to achieve enhanced economic development.

The importance of green growth is also highlighted in the IPCC report with increasing evidence of ‘decoupling’ between GHG emissions and economic growth.

The report outlines that 23 countries have achieved absolute decoupling, growing their GDP while their consumption-based CO2 emissions have plateaued. This indicates a big change in the feasibility — and increasing prevalence — of low-carbon economies.

But this big change needs big money. Less wealthy countries are eager to decarbonise, they just need financial support in order to cut emissions and protect themselves from the dangerous implications of climate change.

Australia’s accelerated path to net zero

The opportunities don’t end in Southeast Asia. With the right policies and investment, Australia could hit net zero emissions within 13 years and reap huge associated benefits in the process.

Our Decarbonisation Futures report shows how Australia can achieve climate goals while rebuilding the economy to be resilient for the future.

Australia can achieve net zero via faster deployment of mature, demonstrated technologies and rapid development and commercialisation of emerging technologies in harder to abate sectors.

Infographic showing a summary of key zero-emissions solutions
Climateworks Centre’s Decarbonisation Futures report identifies solutions, actions and benchmarks for a net zero emissions Australia.

Because we need to switch away from fossil fuels, we need to produce as much renewable electricity as we can. The system would need to be near zero emissions by 2035 – and generating much more power. We’ve helped identify pathways to do just that.

Australia has many opportunities to take meaningful action on climate change, including:

  • building and retrofitting homes and workplaces to use as little energy as possible, 
  • having three out of four new cars be electric by 2030, and taking the opportunity to rethink our transport sector entirely,
  • reducing livestock emissions using a combination of anti-methane tech, plant-based proteins and the right policies, bringing Agriculture to net zero by 2035,
  • engaging Australia’s land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector to ‘soak up’ our remaining emissions.

Our modelling shows that by taking practical, achievable and decisive action, Australia can contribute its fair share in limiting warming below 1.5°C. But only if we act now.