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Like the first iPod, is Australia at a tipping point at COP26?

Like the first iPod, is Australia at a tipping point at COP26?

This week was the 20-year anniversary of Steve Jobs announcing the first ever iPod (23 October 2001). In a way it marks a day on how much technology has changed in the last two decades, and how much change it has brought for so many aspects of our lives. The first iPod could store 240 songs. Today’s iPhone can access the world’s music via its apps, a staggering 70 million songs!

After getting over the mild shock that 20 years ago was in fact 2001, not 1981 as my brain first thought, it struck me that our thinking and approach to technology has completely changed in response to its innovation and advancement.

Apple’s iPod and its subsequent innovations set in motion a series of rapid changes in technological advances that we’ve seen in the last few years. However, other areas of our lives have changed woefully slowly, one such being our national approach to climate change.

The world leaders are set to gather soon at one of the most crucial climate summits of the human history – COP26. Filled with negotiations, events, and showcases, the goal of COP is to review progress towards the overall goal of the UNFCCC - to limit climate change.

While ThinkPlace has been working closely with several clients to prepare for COP26, Australia has been in the headlines for several weeks debating its position at COP and commitment to reduce carbon emission.

The recent climate report released by the UN – which was referred as ‘code red for humanity’ also sparked conversations of what this is going to mean for the future of Australia and the world.

This didn’t come as a surprise for many, as Australia is one of the countries that has been deeply affected by these climate disasters whether it was the summer floods of 2010, the heat wave in 2018 or the Bushfires of 2019.

Even if the world leaders committed to act now, where would we be at the end of this decade?

Angry Summer 2018 2019 Infographic Climate Council Australia

For the past two decades the various governments have put little priority on taking action on climate change. As a result, Australia is estimated to have the highest-cost climate policy options in the developed world. Australia’ transition to a knowledge-based economy, transition from manufacturing to services and increased employment of local and international workforce overseas has had a massive effect on the nature of Australia’s international relations and geo-strategic posture.

After much anticipation, Prime Minister Scott Morrison launched the federal government’s plan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Some have responded to the Prime Minister’s announcement with scepticism about the lack of details and level of conviction to the net zero emission target.

"Leaders can still make this a turning point to a greener future instead of a tipping point to climate catastrophe."

UN Secretar General António Guterres says the era of half measures and hollow promises must end. We need urgent climate action now.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

Like many countries in the world, Australians cannot dismiss the effects and potential risks associated with climate change, climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. The interaction and interrelation between the environment and the economy and the effects of climate change need to be addressed and analysed to find viable and sustainable solutions.

Just as Steve Job’s iPod announcement set us on a path of technological advancement, could this COP26 be a tipping point for Australia’s stance and action on climate change?

“Leaders are fascinated by the future, restless for change, and deeply dissatisfied with the status quo. They are never satisfied with the present, because in their head they can see a better future, and the friction between what is and what could be burns them, propels them forward.” – Steve Jobs

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Kerstin Oberprieler

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