Towards Net Zero

Net Zero: a transition led by technology

1 September 2021

Melbourne Skyline

Ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Summit in November, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) calls on the Federal government to commit to and announce immediate and decisive action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

ATSE’s Fellows include many of the country’s leading scientists, technological scientists and engineers who are employed at the highest levels of industry, the public sector and academia.

Having considered the scientific evidence, and the urgency called for in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the Academy concludes that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, Australia must reach net zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest and set ambitious interim emissions targets for 2030.

To achieve significant emissions reductions, we do not need to wait for emerging technologies because they could already be economically achieved through the immediate deployment of existing mature, low-carbon technologies like solar, wind and energy storage (batteries and pumped hydro), combined with electrification of transport and sustainably designed buildings.

Australia has the potential to be among the world’s leading nations in renewable energy generation, low-emission and negative emission technologies.

ATSE president Professor Hugh Bradlow said a firm commitment to net zero, clear targets and a plan to achieve them, would pave the way for large-scale infrastructure roll-out and provide certainty for industry and investment.

“A 50 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 would set a clear course for net zero emissions by 2050. It’s also realistically achievable, based on the technology already available,” Professor Bradlow said.

“To meet the more ambitious targets we’re calling for, the Australian Government must develop a plan and solid policy framework to guide and coordinate the deployment of low-emissions technology as soon as possible.”

Dr John Söderbaum, Chair of ATSE’s Energy Forum, said relying on market forces, or Australia’s current ‘business as usual’ approach, is not a realistic option.

Australia’s global trading partners view our current 2030 emissions target as manifestly inadequate and completely out of step with their own commitments,” Dr Söderbaum said.

“Trading partners will inevitably apply increasing commercial pressure if we fail to set more ambitious targets.

“The technology needed for Australia to transition to a net zero emissions economy already exists. What’s more, we are well placed to capture significant economic opportunities as we make that transition.”

Download the ATSE position statement 

Liz Foschia — Communications Manager, Media and Social Media  |  0419 976 903


Briefing for Journalists presented by the Science Media Centre, with the following speakers:

Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE
ATSE President

Professor Renate Egan FTSE
Energy Forum Working group member, Co-Founder Solar Analytics, leads the UNSW activity in the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics 

Dr John Söderbaum FTSE
ATSE Energy Forum Chair, Science & Technology Director, ACIL Allen 


ATSE’s three positions — 40 seconds