Open letter demands action
Eighty of Australia's top academics have declared an “urgent need for deep cuts” to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.
An open letter from a group of Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellows describes Australia as “ground zero for both climate impacts and climate policy uncertainty”.
The experts warn that the world may not support human societies “in their current form and maintain human well-being” without action.
Researchers have done a lot of the hard work in identifying policies and technologies to address the solution, but “what is lacking is the courage to implement them at the required scale”, the letter states.
It calls on the government to “acknowledge the gravity of the threat posed by climate change driven by human activities” and “reduce greenhouse gas emissions in time to safeguard against catastrophe”.
“We owe this to younger generations and those who come after them, who will bear the brunt of our decisions.”
The letter, signed by 80 past and present ARC Laureate Fellows, notes that scientists forecast today’s impacts decades ago.
Signatories to the letter include top academics from the fields of economics, healthcare, history, law, and many other scientific disciplines.
“We're a small group that has been selected by the Australian Research Council as the top researchers in our respective fields,” coordinator Professor Steven Sherwood said.
“It's a good group to think about all aspects of the problem — it's not just a science problem. It's a problem that spans all of those areas.”
They say adapting to future fires is not enough.
“The current impacts are happening with just one [degree] Celsius of global temperature increase, but we are set for the best part of another degree even if very strong international action is taken to reduce emissions,” the letter states.
“If strong action is not taken, environmental degradation and social disruption will be much greater and in many cases adaptation will no longer be achievable.
“It would be naive to assume that such a world will still support human societies in their current form and maintain human well-being.”
They experts know that the transition will be painful for some communities.
“For example, we probably need to provide economic support to coal-mining regions,” Professor Sherwood said.
“Many mining jobs are set to disappear no matter what our governments do, so this would be a concern even if we didn't care about the planet's future.”