Australian gov't urged for more ambitious emissions targets

Australia is heading towards climate catastrophe if the country does not pursue more ambitious emissions reduction targets, experts have warned.

In a report published on

Wednesday, the Climate Council, Australia's leading climate change communications NGO, called for the federal government to slash emissions by 75 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2035 to curtail the impacts of climate change.

The report was published one day after the Bureau of Meteorology of Australia declared that two climate drivers linked to hot, dry weather in Australia -- El Nino and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) -- have developed.

"We have both an El Nio event and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole underway, amplified by climate change, which heightens the risk of dangerous heat and severe fires," Simon Bradshaw, Climate Council research director, said in a media release on Wednesday.

"The reality is stark: there's no safe level of global warming. Everything we do now matters. The only way we can turn down the heat is to get our emissions plummeting, and fast."

The report warned that, on the current trajectory of global warming, by the year 2100, Australia is facing a large-scale collapse of marine ecosystems, more frequent and severe heat waves and "irreversible" shifts in rainfall patterns.

It found that if emissions from land use and forestry are excluded, national emissions from the rest of Australia's economy have fallen only 0.2 percent since 2005.

The governing Australian Labor Party has set an emissions reduction target of at least 43 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and net zero by 2050, but the Climate Council said those goals were not on track.

"This report paints a vivid contrast for Australia's century's end -- one that is completely unrecognizable or one where much of what we cherish about our beautiful country has been saved," Lesley Hughes, co-author of the report and a member of the government's Climate Change Authority, said in Wednesday's media release.