Australia needs to come clean with other countries on climate change Media Release

Jun 01, 2015 - 12:38pm

As the latest round of climate talks begin in Bonn, the Australian Government has raised more questions than answers in its response released today to other governments’ formal questions about its direct action policy, The Climate Institute said.

The questions - from China, Brazil, the USA and the EU - on the effectiveness of the Australian government policy are part of the process of climate talks, which will see Australia stand up in person to answer further questions Thursday night our time.

“The government’s response to other countries questions on the effectiveness of its domestic pollution reductions policy lack transparency and try to avoid accountability,” said Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute.

“The government appears to be inflating the impact of its actions to 2020 without providing any estimate of the pollution reductions it will deliver. Its responses raise more questions than it answers.”

“Paris will be successful not only if countries agree to establish a framework which sends clear, bankable, signals to business and investors that decarbonisation investments continue grow.”

“Paris will also be successful if it builds trust and accountability in ensuring all nations - developed and developing - are transparent and clear on their actions.”

“It will be an agreement which creates an expectation that all countries will ratchet up action to limit global warming to less than 2°C. National progress toward this goal will be scrutinised internationally and transparency is central to building trust and accountability. ”

“The lack of transparency around Australia’s domestic policy is deeply disappointing. If we are not prepared to be upfront with the international community how can we expect others like China, Brazil and other emerging economies to do the same?”

China, Brazil, the US and the EU have been asking questions of Australia’s 2020 targets and its domestic policies as part of the UN’s Multilateral Assessment process of current 2020 pollution targets (see details below). Australia has now formally responded to these questions and will stand up in person on Thursday night (Australian time) in Bonn to respond to direct questions from other nations.

In its written response to questions from Brazil, China, the USA and the EU, Australia refused to quantify the pollution reductions that its direct action plan was projected to deliver. Independent analysis suggests the policy is unlikely to deliver Australia’s post-2020 targets. The government also pointed to the 47 million tonnes of pollution reductions which are estimated to be delivered by the first auction under the Emissions Reductions Fund but failed to mention that a significant proportion of these reductions will occur after 2020. The current assessment is focused on our 2020 targets.

“The Climate Institute does, however, welcome that the government has indicated to China that we will examine lifting the ambition of our 2020 targets to up to 25 per cent below 2000 levels. All expert and independent analysis highlights that the minimum 5 per cent target is inadequate when compared to the extent of international action underway. The Climate Change Authority and others recommend a target of at least 19 per cent.

“Early actions to reduce pollution allow us to catch up with other countries and boost investment opportunities in modernising and decarbonising our polluting economy.”

“Australia’s first effort in this international climate accountability is disappointing, the government will need to come clean on Thursday night,” said Jackson.


Answers released to the media today relate to the climate conventions Multilateral Assessment process established to review 2020 emissions reductions targets. This process aims to transparently compare the efforts of developed countries by increasing international pressure on the ambitions that countries bring to the table. The Climate Institute’s overview of the Bonn climate talks and this process is available here and press release available here.

The process began in January 2014 and the first group of countries was assessed in Lima (mainly EU countries and the US). There are several stages of questioning:

  1. Countries can submit questions on an online portal. This closed on March 31st for Australia. Australia answered those questions today here.
  2. Countries can ask questions directly at the next round of climate negotiations in a two-hour session in Bonn in June. Australia’s assessment is on the 4th of June.
  3. A UN review of Australia’s performance will be released in August.

A similar process will likely continue in the future as part of the post-2020 framework to be agreed in Paris in December.

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Susan Cavanagh | Media Manager | | 02 8239 6299

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