Climate inaction a costly legacy


Climate change policy must address the economic issues Australia is to face. Picture credit: Markus Spiske via Unsplash

While climate policy was key on election day, Australia’s lack of investment in renewables will cost taxpayers billions to rectify in coming years, a political scientist warns.

Murdoch University environment and political policy researcher Dr Tobias Ide wants the Australian government to address financial and environmental issues exasterbated by a delays in effective climate policy.

“In previous years little has been done to shift from fossil fuels to renewables, which makes the issue more urgent, but also more challenging,” Dr Ide said.

According to the University of Technology Sydney, building and infrastructure to supply 100 per cent renewable energy in Australian by 2050 would cost Australia $800b.

That cost has more than doubled from 2011, when it was estimated to cost $370b.

Australia was criticised by the United Kingdom for inaction on reducing carbon emissions and targets of net zero by 2030, at the latest climate change conference in Glasgow in November last year.

Because of coal power, Australia has the highest greenhouse gases per person, at 5.34 tons a year, – double the amount produced per person in China, according to Our World in Data.   Australia emits five times the world’s average.

Dr Ide says now that Australia has voted for climate policy, leaders must make sure reforms are “innovative to tackle economic turbulence.”

“But with housing and consumer prices going up, Australians may be very sceptical about financial risks related to the renewable energy transformation,” Dr Ide says.

2030 goal of reducing emissions by 50 per cent does not recognise current financial challenges faced by many Australians and the process of implementing renewable energy more difficult and expensive, experts say.

Teal independent for WA’s federal seat of Curtin, Kate Chaney, has consistently criticised the major parties lack of commitment towards climate action.

“Instead of a serious discussion of climate policy, the major parties insult our intelligence by re-erecting the carbon tax bogeyman,” Mrs Chaney posted on twitter.

Ms Chaney is also pushing for the 2030 climate goa; of not releases any new carbon emissions to the atmosphere to keep the global temperature limit at 1.5C.

Mrs Chaney was unavailable to respond to questions on the issue.

Chief climate councillor of the Climate Council Professor Tim Flannery said Australia is running out of time and cannot afford to make any mistakes.

“Right now we are on a crash course to climate catastrophe… we cannot afford to waste a single day more,” Prof Flannery said.

While climate policy has consistently focussed on Australia’s predicted economic prosperity or failure, Dr Ide said climate reform is needed to reflect all the challenges Australia is to face.

“There is great opportunity for Australia to be both ambitious with their policies and represent all Australian’s interests,” Dr Ide said.