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Australia's emissions reduction target 'unambitious, irresponsible'

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Australia's emissions reduction target 'unambitious, irresponsible'

Greenhouse gas emissions Australia's emissions reduction target 'unambitious, irresponsible'

New Australia Institute paper finds neither Coalition nor Labor’s pollution reduction targets would see us doing our fair share

Coal-fired power station
The Australia Institute research shows the Turnbull government’s proposed greenhouse gas emissions cuts are ‘inadequate’. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pollution reduction targets for 2030 proposed by the Coalition and Labor will not see Australia contributing its fair share to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate agreement, according to new research.

A paper from the progressive thinktank the Australia Institute finds the Turnbull government’s target of a 26-28% reduction on 2005 levels is “inadequate according to any recognised principle-based approach” and the Labor target of a 45% reduction is “the bare minimum necessary for Australia to be considered to be making an equitable contribution to the achievement of the Paris agreement’s two degree target”.

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The research analyses Australia’s targets using the conventional approaches used to determine abatement levels â€" population, cost-sharing, “historic responsibility” and hybrid models. It says in the context of the global carbon budget, neither policy would see Australia doing its fair share.

It points out that despite the clarity of the climate science, spelling out the urgent need to reduce emis sions to keep surface temperature increases to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels, the international community is continuing to struggle to agree on an equitable division of the global emissions budget.

Individual nation states have been reluctant to incur the economic and political costs associated with mitigation.

“Whether you assess the fairness of a country’s emissions reduction target by population, economic cost, or a combination, our analysis shows Australia’s reduction target is unambitious, unfair and irresponsible,” says Richie Merzian, a former federal climate policy bureaucrat who now runs the Australia Institute’s climate and energy program.

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The next round of international climate negotiations will be held in the Polish city of Katowice in December this year. The looming talks are critical to ensuring the signatories to the Pa ris deal maintain the momentum of their various emissions reduction pledges.

Unlike the United States, Australia remains in the Paris agreement, despite continued rumbling from conservatives about climate policy. However, the Turnbull government is still struggling to land its national energy guarantee which would impose emissions reductions in the electricity sector.

Because of internal pushback within the Coalition, and lobbying by some sectors, the government has not yet flagged a roadmap for emissions reductions across the economy, and there is widespread criticism of the lack of ambition in the target proposed for emissions reduction in electricity.

The latest official emissions data shows pollution increased by 1.5% in the year to December 2017. Australia’s emissions levels are now higher than they were in 2012 and have climbed by 3.6% since the carbon price was repealed in 2014.

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Emissions are increasing in most sectors of the economy â€" in waste, agriculture and transport. Only one sector of the economy has recorded a decrease â€" the electricity sector â€" because aging coal-fired power plants have exited the system, and new renewables projects are coming on stream.

Merzian says Australia is continuing to “profit from high emissions rather than take up its fair share of reductions. We are unfairly shirking our global responsibilities onto others.”

“As we approach the next climate conference, what UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa is calling Paris 2.0, Australia will come under pressure from our friends and neighbours to lift our game and chip in our equitable share.”

“It is in Australia’s best interest to have targets that do our fair share. Inadequate targets that need continual revision bring uncertainty to business. The reduction target uncertainty that has plagued the energy se ctor will spread and be experienced by all sectors unless we get this right.”

Topics
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Paris climate agreement
  • Climate change
  • COP 21: UN climate change conference | Paris
  • Australian politics
  • Global climate talks
  • news
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Source: Google Australia | Netizen 24 Australia

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