MEDIA RELEASE: From Laggard to Leader Australia's time to shine in climate action

31 May 2023

Zali Steggall MP and Senator David Pocock will call for urgent, transformative action to turn Australia from a laggard to a leader in climate action at a special climate forum they are co-hosting in Parliament House this evening. The forum is calling for government, policy makers, industry and business to accelerate the emissions reduction ambition to 75% reduction by 2035 and urgently focus on the key warming accelerator, being methane emissions.

Zali Steggall MP said: “Australia currently ranks poorly in global climate action, currently positioned in the bottom 10 countries on the Climate Change Performance Index. By adopting the '75 by 35' target, Australia can transform itself into a leader on the global stage”.

Senator David Pocock said: “Climate change is the biggest challenge we face. It requires bold and ambitious action to safeguard the future of the people and places we love. Our transformation to a low-carbon economy presents incredible opportunities, but we need to move fast. Setting an ambitious 75% by 2035 target will send a strong market signal and allow Australian industry and innovators to lead the world in the transition”.

The forum will host a panel of business, science and industry experts who will share their insights and perspectives on the challenges and opportunities associated with climate action, including:

  • Professor Nerilie Abram - Professor of Climate Science, Australian National University (ANU)
  • Martijn Wilder AM - Founder and CEO of Pollination
  • Charlotte Hanson - Climate Policy Consultant to the Environmental Defense Fund
  • Professor Frank Jotzo - Head of Energy, ANU Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions
  • Anna Freeman - Policy Director at the Clean Energy Council

The panellists will explore the current temperature trajectory, key warming accelerators and their implications for Australia, the scale of the response needed and opportunities to lead, from policy to investment.


Quotes attributable to the panellists are below:

Nerile Abram:
The impact of just over 1°C of human-caused climate warming is already being felt in every part of the world. Floods, heatwaves, wildfires and droughts – the fingerprint of human influence is everywhere we look and continues to grow each year.

Every additional tonne of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere will make climate warming worse. The only way to stop climate warming is to get our emissions to net-zero.

Decades of inaction mean that we now face an enormous challenge. To have any chance of keeping global warming well below 2°C we need to do everything we can, as fast as we can, to reduce our

greenhouse gas emissions.


Frank Jotzo:
For now, reducing Australia’s emissions is harvesting low-hanging fruit. But for the deeper cuts beyond 2030 we need much stronger effort, with climate policy right across the economy.

We need a true national conversation about where the opportunities are on the road to net zero, and how we will navigate the trickier parts of the path ahead.

Beyond cutting domestic emissions, Australia has a big role to play helping other countries decarbonise. That’s by gradually replacing our exports of fossil fuels with exports of zero carbon energy and commodities processed with renewable energy. Handled well, this can bring economic growth and future tax revenue.


Martijn Wilder:
Victoria has now committed to an ambitious but necessary 75-80% emissions reduction target by 2035. This will require a whole of economy approach in a way that has never been undertaken before. However, if done correctly it will deliver enormous economic growth while ensuring the goals of the Paris Agreement are met. Victoria has demonstrated more than anyone else a clear desire to do so.


Anna Freeman:
Renewable energy has been the major success story of Australia’s emissions reduction efforts in recent years, with the share of renewable electricity in our fossil-fuel intensive grid doubling over the past five years to 36 per cent.

But the pace of deployment needs to more than double if we are to meet our existing 2030 climate commitments, and then accelerate even further if Australia is to slash emissions in line with our Paris commitment to help contain global warming to 1.5°C.

We need ambitious, long-term, market-based policy mechanisms that can unlock the massive amount of private capital that is required to transform our energy systems over the next two decades.