Failure is not an option. Australia must radically scale up its climate targets now | Will Steffen for the Conversation


To contribute fairly to keeping warming well below 2C, we have to cut emissions by 75% this decade – a daunting but achievable task

In May 2011, almost precisely a decade ago, the government-appointed Climate Commission released its inaugural report. Titled The Critical Decade, the report’s final section warned that to keep global temperature rises to 2C this century, “the decade between now and 2020 is critical”.

As the report noted, if greenhouse gas emissions peaked around 2011, the world’s emissions-reduction trajectory would have been easily manageable: net zero by around 2060, and a maximum emissions reduction rate of 3.7% each year. Delaying the emissions peak by only a decade would require a trebling of this task – a maximum 9% reduction each year.

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