Open Letter from Australian Diplomats for #ClimateAction #SDG13 #auspol #qldpol #FundOurFutureNotGas #StopAdani #StopEcocide #ClimateCrisis @HSBC @NAB @Westpac #COP26

DIPLOMATS FOR CLIMATE ACTION NOW 26th September 2021

The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister

The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development

The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Treasurer

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment

The Hon David Littleproud MP, Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia

Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education, Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women

The Hon Angus Taylor MP, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction

Cc all other Cabinet Ministers

Cc Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Leader of the Opposition Cc members of the Shadow Cabinet

Dear Prime Minister and Ministers

We are a group of former Australian diplomats concerned about Australia’s current lack of commitment to time-bound targets to achieve rapid reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions and the implications this has for the climate and environment we bequeath to future generations. We are also concerned about what this lack of commitment means for Australia’s future strategic and economic prosperity.

The recent IPCC report emphasised that the global community must work urgently to achieve the Paris Agreement objective of limiting the global average temperature rise to below 2C above pre- industrial levels. We must make rapid reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, if we are to prevent increased climatic extremes, catastrophic sea level rise and a dangerous rate of biodiversity loss. The challenges of climate change are matters of public importance which we believe go beyond politics; and acting on climate change now is our ethical and moral responsibility towards future generations.

As former diplomats we are deeply concerned that Australia’s key strategic and economic interests are at risk because of our failure to date, to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050. This lack of commitment is particularly concerning to those regional partners for whom climate change already poses a clear existential threat. The United States and other key partners in Europe and around the globe are increasingly voicing concerns that Australia is not pulling its weight on climate action. Australia’s inertia on commitments undermines our credibility as a regional partner; it undermines our reliability in the minds of our strategic allies; and it will cost us dearly as trading partners seek to impose carbon tariffs on imports of our goods and services. We fear this inertia will undermine many of the strong international relationships we have built up over decades.

Actions, plans and policies are of course vitally important, but without a commitment to targets at the highest levels of government, no-one will believe that we are serious about pulling our weight on reducing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. According to a recent climate poll by the Australian Conservation Foundation, a majority of voters across Australia and a majority in all federal electorates – including where coal and gas are key economic sectors – are now demanding action on climate change. And a clear commitment by Australia to targets would be welcomed by our neighbours and partners and would encourage greater investment in renewable energy and new green industrial processes.

We know that Australia can benefit from responding more ambitiously to climate change. As we transition to a green economy, we can also support our regional partners in their transitions, to our mutual benefit. Australia has the resources to become a major clean energy exporter, and many private investors are already looking at these opportunities which can also generate enormous employment benefits, particularly for regional communities. Australia also has a proud tradition of building effective coalitions to solve regional and global problems, and we can continue that tradition if we take a pro-active approach on climate action; and in cooperation with our Indo- Pacific partners, we can build a stronger, greener, clean energy region.

The science of climate change is now incontrovertible, and numerous substantial reports have shown that it is possible to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy over the next decade. The International Energy Agency, in its report Net Zero by 2050, found that beyond projects already committed, no new investment in oil or gas fields or coal mines – or mine extensions – is required. Many of our businesses and communities have already begun the change to power our communities with clean energy. Australia has a wealth of capabilities and resources to rapidly transition our transport, energy and industrial sectors to clean energy and green hydrogen. And we have the know- how and ability to protect and restore our forests, wetlands and mangroves and preserve the beauty and bounty of our great nation for future generations, while continuing to build a prosperous future.

But time is running out for us to catch up with the rest of the world. As former diplomats, we see what is happening around the globe, and it concerns us that Australia is not at the leading edge of international action on climate change.

Therefore, we urge the Government to commit Australia to achieving net zero emissions before 2050, and to make more ambitious nationally determined contributions before 2030, in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November. We urge all our political leaders to work together on this.

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