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Australia challenged over inadequate climate policy

Australia challenged over inadequate climate policy

The Australian Outback. Creative Commons: 2012

After 18 months attacking clean energy and climate policies, axing and defunding climate and scientific institutions, and embarrassing itself at climate negotiations; Australia’s coal-captured Abbott Government is being challenged by the international community for its inadequate commitment to climate action.

Documents from the United Nations show Australia has been asked 36 questions – the most of any nation – about its 2020 emissions targets, underscoring international concern it may fail to live up to its responsibilities.

Pressure is growing on nations to step up ambition ahead of the Paris climate talks, and Australia has the ability to ambitiously reduce emissions at low cost.

Australians are among, if not the, wealthiest people on earth, and also the worst polluters, and it is one of the countries most exposed to climate change.

It has some of the world’s best prospects for renewable energy growth and, in short, has the ability and the opportunity to make the deep cuts to emissions that are desperately needed, and to do so at low cost while growing its economy.

However, the Abbott government is instead choosing to stay “in the coal business” and has miraculously found $4 million for a new thinktank led by notorious climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg – presumably as it is already fond of his routinely discredited arguments that coal can solve energy poverty and climate action is not urgent.

Surrounding oneself with contrarians, deniers and crony industry is a common theme for governments resisting climate action, so to help people identify and counter the misinformation coming from these sources John Cook, the creator of Skeptical Science, has launched a new massive open online course (MOOC).

Open to anyone, anywhere on earth, the in-depth course features interviews with leading scientists and researchers, including Merchants of Doubt author Naomi Oreskes and Sir David Attenborough.

The course will equip students with the tools to identify and comprehensively dismiss myths used to deny climate science.

If Australia continues down the path it is on, the world is going to get a prime example of what happens when climate deniers and contrarians are given control of policy.

Australia is lagging behind international action, not to mention recommendations from its own authorities.

The world’s major economies are moving with increasing determination to reduce emissions and get moving on the clean energy transition.

If laggards like Australia, Japan and Canada continue to make excuses, delay and backtrack on their commitments, then they will be left behind both politically and economically.

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