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Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground

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Australia's Climate Commission this week released The Critical Decade 2013: Climate change science, risks and responses - issuing a challenge to Australia's political and business leaders and confirming that "most fossil fuels must be left in the ground and cannot be burned" if we want to meet the agreed goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees.

This is the first time an Australian Government body has come out and admitted that if Australia is to meet its stated commitment of joining the world in limiting warming to below two degrees, most of our coal (and coal seam gas) must not be mined, sold and burnt.

The report found that:

  • The burning of fossil fuels represents the most significant contributor to climate change.
  • “From today until 2050 we can emit no more than 600 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to have a good chance of staying within the 2°C limit.”
  • Based on estimates by the International Energy Agency, emissions from using all the world’s fossil fuel reserves would be around five times this budget.
  • Burning all fossil fuel reserves would lead to unprecedented changes in climate so severe that they will challenge the existence of our society as we know it today.

This is the common sense advice that follows the release earlier this year of the Climate Commission's The Angry Summer report, which showed how in just 90 days, 123 weather records were broken in Australia. You can revisit that report here.

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