Australia's minimum pollution effort should be 10 to 15%: FOI Documents Media Release

Nov 30, 2010 - 8:00pm

Australia's pollution reduction policy should adopt a new minimum target of 10 to 15 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, with the flexibility for at least 25 per cent reductions, shows analysis of Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency documents obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) and released today by the Climate Institute.

“These documents reveal the reality of a world taking action on pollution and accelerating climate change,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute.

“If Australia is to improve its competiveness in the already emerging low pollution global economy and to maintain its more progressive global role, then domestic pollution reduction policy needs to see Australia?s pollution falling soon with flexibility to achieve at least 25 per cent cuts by 2020.”

“These documents should also come as a wake-up call to those who pretend Australia can get away with just 5 per cent reductions by 2020. The new minimum is 10, if not 15, per cent reductions based on the targets and actions of other countries. Pretending otherwise could expose taxpayers and the budget to multi-billion dollar risks* as we play catch up.”

Both the ALP and the Coalition support Australia unconditionally reducing pollution by 5 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020 and up to a 25 per cent reduction depending on commitments from other nations.

Analysis and advice from the Department shows:

  • Developing countries' pollution targets, including from countries such as China, India, South Africa and Brazil, are overall sufficient for Australia to move to a 15 per cent reduction on 2000 levels by 2020. 
  • China's committed unilateral target is consistent with the conditions for Australia's 25 per cent conditional target if it is part of a new international treaty.
  • The overall advanced economy, including the EU, Japan, South Korea and the USA, pollution target implies at least a 10 per cent reduction on 2000 levels by 2020 for Australia. This could be up to a 15 per cent reduction if countries move to the higher end of their target ranges.
  • Flexibility in policy is important. As the Department notes: “If the post-2012 outcome retains the prospect that [stronger] conditions may be satisfied in future negotiations, the Government may decide to set a minimal level of ambition and retain the option of increasing its ambition at a later date.”
  • Australia played a proactive role in pushing countries to increase their ambition towards meeting the conditions of Australia?s higher targets in advance of the Copenhagen Summit.

“The actions countries are taking to limit pollution and drive clean energy is seeing a global investment boom in technologies such as wind and solar power,” said Mr Connor.

“Last year, China invested over US$18 billion and the UK over $11 billion in clean energy. Australian investment was under $1 billion dollars. Australia is a global laggard risking future competitiveness.

“In addition, part of the foundation of Departmental analysis, and moves by the Government to encourage strong action from all countries in advance of Copenhagen, was clearly the recognition „that Australia is expected to suffer greater harm from unmitigated climate change than most other advanced nations’.” 

“Even more ambitious domestic and international action is in Australia?s national interest and this will only be helped by Australia putting in place domestic pollution reduction policy that allows the nation to meet the full range of targets it has committed to domestically and promised internationally.”

*See Policy Brief: Polluter Responsibility Key to Limiting Taxpayer Exposure, The Climate Institute, November 2010

Radio National - Breakfast with Fran Kelly, 30 November 2010
Freedom of information / climate conference in Cancun
Guests: Erwin Jackson

For further information:

John Connor | CEO, The Climate Institute |  0413 968 475 
Harriet Binet | Communications Director, The Climate Institute |  02 8239 6299 
Erwin Jackson | Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute |  +61 (0)411 358 939 #

#NOTE: Erwin is currently at the UN Climate Summit in Cancun, Mexico (17 hours behind AEDT) 

See also UN COP 16 Cancun Climate Summit: Building on the Foundations, The Climate Institute, November 2010

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