Australia has been warned it is falling behind on measures to fight climate change in comments by a powerful voice behind the United Kingdom’s move towards zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Julia King, the Baroness Brown of Cambridge, had been asked whether Australia’s bid to reduce emissions by 28 per cent by 2030 meant it was falling behind when compared to the British effort.
“Seems like the answer is yes to me,” she said.
However she added: “But the difficult is, every economy is a different shape.”
In an indirect reference to Australia’s debate over coal use and exports, she said there was no need to be “digging a hole” when some minerals could be harvested from old digital devices.
Baroness Brown, who sits on the crossbench in the House of Lords, is deputy chair of the UK parliament’s Climate Change Committee who this week proposed a dramatic increase in Britain’s emissions reduction efforts to a legally binding target of zero.
She is also a non-executive director of a company providing offshore wind farms.
The committee believes greater use of renewable energy and energy subsidies for heating Britain’s 28 million houses could see the ambitious target met.
Baroness Brown urged greater effort in retrieving minerals such as cobalt and lithium from old digital devices.
“It’s not just about digging a new hole. It’s also about using rubbish as a resource,” she told Australian reporters in London.
The objective is to use solar and wind power to replace coal, and was announced during a week in which Britain spent its 19th day without using coal-fired electricity generation.
She said the move, expected to get bipartisan support, should be put in “the context of economic growth, and increasingly in the context of clean air”.
“It’s the language of solutions not problems. And that’s very much what we try to focus on in the Committee on Climate Change,” said Baroness Brown.
“We can address these issues and increasingly as we have addressed them, we can demonstrate that they generate economic growth, and generate new jobs in key industries.
“We can also deliver health benefits. We have terrible air pollution in our cities in the UK.”
Baroness Brown also sees opportunities to reduce generation costs.
“We’re used to the electronics industry being able to halve the price or double the capacity every 10 years or whatever it is,” she said.
“So when batteries, which are sort of electronics, have come down in price at this phenomenal rate, when solar has come down in price at this phenomenal rate, that’s kind of like the electronics industry.”