Australia takes positive steps, not strides, to zero emissions future Media Release

Dec 01, 2015 - 6:30am

Though it welcomed steps announced by Australia at the Paris climate summit today, The Climate Institute said strides were needed to get us to the net zero emissions necessary to avoid 2°C warming.

In his speech overnight, the Prime Minister announced that Australia will become a member of the 20-country ‘Mission Innovation’ initiative, will ratify the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and contribute at least $1bn to help the world’s poorest nations participate in climate change solutions.

“The Prime Minister’s commitment to join ‘Mission Innovation’ and ratify the second Kyoto commitment are positive early steps from Australia,” said CEO, John Connor. “The ‘at least’ $1bn for climate finance is encouraging but falls short of our commitment to scale up contributions towards the collective goal of US$100bn by 2020.”

‘Mission Innovation’ was officially launched today. Australia joined 19 other countries that announced a doubling of their clean energy research and development support by 2020. At the same time, the ‘Breakthrough Energy Coalition’ was launched. A group of 28 investors – including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos – that will back companies in the 20 countries to deliver “affordable, reliable and carbon-free power”.

“The Institute welcomes Australia's commitment to doubling its support for R&D in clean energy. However, as the ‘Breakthrough Energy Coalition’ observed, the key is to get the technology ‘out of the lab and into the market’,” John Connor said.

He said that one of the major barriers to clean energy investment in Australia is our ageing and inefficient coal fired power stations operating without any emission reductions responsibilities.

“Innovation support is important to improve cost effectiveness, but we already have the technologies needed to achieve a zero emissions power sector,” he said. “The best technology in the world is useless if it stays in the laboratory. Clear policies to drive investment and deployment remain the central test of any credible climate policy.”

“Ratification of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol helps build confidence that Australia is serious about its international commitments. It confirms our commitment to a range of 2020 emissions reduction targets, from 5 to 25 per cent below 2000 levels, and it can allow simpler access to international offsets.”

Ratification was one of The Climate Institute’s key tests of positive contributions from Australia. It joins constructive Australian steps in relation to regular five yearly reviews and support for the long-term goal of net zero emissions.

Another key test was scaling up ‘climate finance’ – support for developing countries to adopt clean energy innovations, as well as helping them prepare for climate impacts – to $1.5bn per year by 2020.

“It is important that the Prime Minister recognises that developing countries need this support, in particular to prepare for climate impacts. However, the ‘at least’ $1 billion of climate finance over five years offered by the PM matches our annual contributions from 2010-13. Other countries like Canada, Germany and the UK are at least doubling theirs,” John Connor said.

Connor said it was important that the Prime Minister was explicit inly recognising that net zero emissions are necessary and that the ability to help achieve this goal is now the test for all climate policy. However, while he has taken some important steps towards a net zero emissions future to end climate pollution, he said the Prime Minister should be taking strides.

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Brinsley Marlay ● Media Manager ● 02 8239 6299
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