Centre for Climate and Energy Policy update: Net Zero
The key to better climate change outcomes globally is the shift over time to net zero emissions. Long-term low emissions strategies are key to help understand not only the technical options but also economic and social aspects. This will be a focus for us at the Centre for Climate and Energy Policy in 2020. On 26 Feb we will hold a forum Towards a long-term emissions strategy for Australia: perspectives on scenarios, investment, and industry, with several speakers from research and industry associations.
We also have two research seminars this week: Prof Michael Hanemann, world renown environmental economist, on water markets and how the Californian experience relates to Australia (10 Feb); and Dr Masahiro Sugiyama of the University of Tokyo on modelling Japan’s climate policies (11 Feb). And we are partners in a day-long forum on climate action organised by the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia, on 11 Feb at Parliament House.
In Australia, the immediate context for climate change research and policy remains the bushfires. Latest estimates have the area of forests burned at over 10 million hectares, carbon dioxide emissions that might be as much as twice Australia’s annual total greenhouse gas emissions, massive loss of flora and fauna, large economic costs for example in housing, infrastructure and tourism, difficult challenges in rebuilding affected communities, and extensive health and psychological impacts.
A crisis of such proportions offers the possibility of societal, political and policy change, as I argued in this article last month. The political debate about policy to cut emissions remains fraught in Australia, but some ‘green shoots’ are emerging, and there is already a much clearer sense of the need to adapt to climate change impacts.
As always, our role in the universities is to provide research-based insights, and to give thoughtful leadership. ANU has a tremendous strength in research across disciplines that matter in the aftermath of the fires, from ecology through engineering to economics and policy. Our Chancellor Julie Bishop recently pledged the combined capability that ANU can offer to the national bushfire recovery effort.
And on occasion we can lead by example. Our Vice Chancellor and President Prof Brian Schmidt, at last week’s ANU annual State of the University address, committed ANU to become a negative-emissions organisation. Strategy and implementation are to be worked out, but the commitment is there.
Best wishes from Canberra