Australia is a country vulnerable to climate change yet behind on climate action

Climate council CEO Amanda McKenzie says there's no other country that could produce cheaper green steel than Australia. Picture: Supplied
Climate council CEO Amanda McKenzie says there's no other country that could produce cheaper green steel than Australia. Picture: Supplied

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie says it 'struck' her how much Australia is mentioned in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Australia's mentioned as a country vulnerable to climate change, criticised for its lack of climate action, but also as a place with the capacity to make a big difference.

"We are very vulnerable to climate change impacts," says Amanda. "And I think that's clear when you look at the last few years."

Climate scientists draw a straight line from a warming planet to natural disasters. Drought, fires, floods and heatwaves are getting more ferocious and frequent.

"It will continue to get worse, but how much worse it gets depends on our level of action."

The IPCC says fossil fuel emissions must peak in the next few years if we're going to keep warming to 1.5 degrees.

"If we can't get emissions trending dramatically downwards this decade, the level of climate change that we'll see through the rest of the century will be devastating."

"The way that scientists talk about it is 'it would not be compatible with civilization'."

Global warming is currently at 0.8 degrees and in the past few years we've seen unprecedented fires, floods and droughts.

"Well, the good news is that we know the solution. We have to get off fossil fuels -- the burning of coal, the burning of oil, the burning of gas."

Amanda says there are a lot of opportunities for Australia to lead the world toward a greener future.

"We can be thinking about how we use our resources -- cheap, renewable power -- to be working on manufacturing things that the rest of the world needs."

Australia is far behind the rest of the world in terms of climate action.

"Australia being drawn out to say that we have had not just a reliance on fossil fuels, but the fossil fuel industry has been heavily influencing our politics."

"We're starting from a low base, we're way behind the rest of the world, but we have huge opportunities."

Amanda McKenzie appears in our Disaster Country podcast series about how we live with intensifying climate disasters.

This story Australia could be a climate action trailblazer first appeared on The Canberra Times.