CANBERRA, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- A top United Nations (UN) official has called for Australia to urgently abandon coal-fired power generation.
Selwin Hart, special adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Action and assistant secretary-general, told a virtual Australian National University (ANU) forum on Monday that the climate crisis would "wreak havoc" on the Australian economy if it remains reliant on the coal industry.
"Market forces alone show coal's days are numbered, as many investors increasingly abandon it in favor of renewables, which are now cheaper in most places," Hart said in a pre-recorded speech to the ANU Crawford Leadership Forum.
"National governments responsible for 73 percent of global emissions have now committed to net zero by mid-century, and we urge Australia to join them as a matter of urgency. All Pacific small island nations have made this commitment," Hart said.
"If the world does not rapidly phase out coal, climate change will wreak havoc right across the Australian economy, from agriculture to tourism, and right across the services sector," noted the senior UN official.
The Australian government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to release a longer-term emissions strategy before the landmark UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Britain, in November this year.
In February, he told the National Press Club that his "preference" was for Australia to hit net zero emissions by 2050 amid pressure from fellow world leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden and British PM Boris Johnson to formally commit to the goal.
Hart told the ANU forum that it was critical wealthy countries phase out fossil fuels by 2030.
"We are at a critical juncture in the climate crisis. If the Group of Twenty (G20) countries, including Australia, choose business-as-usual, climate change will soon send Australia's high living standards up in flames," he said. Enditem