Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are elements that occur naturally in the Earth's atmosphere. However, since the Industrial Revolution, human activity has caused more and more greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere as pollution, especially CO2.
All this extra human-made CO2 pollution creates a greenhouse effect around the Earth, which traps heat from the sun and warms the planet's surface and oceans, known as global warming. This global warming causes changes to the Earth's climate patterns, which has big impacts on our climate, oceans and ecosystems.
In 2015, the Earth's temperature had already warmed by 1°C compared to pre-industrial levels . If global warming continues at its current rate, the world will be on track to warm between at least 3°C and 4°C by the end of the century, with devastating impacts on the people and places we love.
In December 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted by 195 countries to prevent the worst impacts of global warming. The long-term goal is to keep global warming well below 2°C by the end of the century, and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C .
As part of the Paris Agreement, each country needs to implement measures to meet this goal.
In Australia, we need to achieve:
• Net zero carbon pollution before 2050.
This means that the amount of greenhouse gas pollution emitted is equal to or less than the amount absorbed, captured or offset.
• 100% renewable energy before 2050, including 100% renewable electricity before 2035.
This means moving away from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to generate energy, and instead increase the use of clean renewable energy sources like solar and wind.