The Australia Institute, one of Australia’s leading policy think tanks, yesterday took out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times to call out Australia’s record on climate change.
The full page advert, which costs upwards of US$150,000, took the headline "Australia Must Accelerate Climate Action, Not Climate Annihilation" and was timed to coincide with the UN general assembly this week and Climate summit on Wednesday in New York City, of which ministers from Australia's government attended.
The advertisement took the form of an open letter
signed by over 220 climate scientists and called upon the Australian government to end “new fossil fuel approvals and subsidies”.
The full-page ad appeared in the New York Times on Wednesday. Picture: Australia Institute
Currently, there are over 100 new coal and gas projects in development in Australia.
“If all these projects proceed, research by the Australia Institute shows they would add a further 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to the atmosphere every year,” the open letter states.
It urges Australia to follow the advice of the United Nations, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and prevent any further new fossil fuel developments.
In a statement to Campaign, a spokesperson from the Australia Institute said: "The opportunity to amplify the voices of over 200 scientists and experts—including two Nobel Laureates—in The New York Times during the UN Climate Ambition Summit was just one tangible way to make an intervention and influence the global debate on Australia’s continued approval of fossil fuel projects in Australia."
"The open letter and significant media attention it received has renewed focus on Australia’s fossil fuel hypocrisy on the world stage.”
Polly Hemming, director of the Australia Institute's climate & energy program, said
the Australian government had “already approved four new coal mines and there are 110 more gas and coal mines in the pipeline."
“If Australia succeeds in its fossil fuel expansion plans, the other nations of the world will fail in their efforts to prevent dangerous climate change,” she said.
“Australia is already the world’s third largest fossil fuel exporter, behind only Saudi Arabia and Russia. But despite the dire warnings from the world’s scientists and the clear language from the UN Secretary-General, the Australian government is not only approving new fossil fuel projects, it is subsidising them and fighting in court to smooth their path.”
Penny Wong, Australia's Foreign Minister, was questioned by a reporter outside the summit on Wednesday and said Australia was trying to undertake “a big transition in a short space of time."
“We will be, by 2030, in excess of 80% renewable energy—when we came to government, we were just over 30%,” she said.
“We recognise our history and the nature of our economy … we are genuinely motivated to change that.”
As extreme weather events and climate-fuelled catastrophies dominate headlines in recent weeks— including in Australia which is battling a series of more than 77 wildfires along its east coast amid Sydney's hottest September heatwave on record—the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres urged world leaders to stop producing coal, oil and gas on Tuesday after lamenting the "abysmally short" progress made in combating climate change.
In his opening speech to the General Assembly, he said that "every continent, every region, and every country is feeling the heat, but I'm not sure all leaders are feeling that heat."
Mr. Guterres declared in July that "the era of global boiling" has replaced "the era of global warming."