Apr 22, 2015 - 7:00am
The Climate Change Authority’s draft Australia’s Future Emissions Reduction Target report lays out the scale of the ambition required to start taking seriously the internationally agreed goal of avoiding 2°C warming, but its recommended targets carry too much risk, The Climate Institute said today.
As the government considers what will be its post-2020 emissions reduction target, the Authority has recommended that Australia cut 2000 levels of carbon pollution 30 per cent by 2025, and between 40 and 60 per cent by 2030.
“The Authority’s recommendations open the door to more credible carbon pollution reductions, but ones that are still risky. We should be targeting at least 40 per cent reductions by 2025, and 60 per cent by 2030, if we want to help build global efforts that give a strong chance of avoiding 2°C,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute.
“In part, the Authority is basing its recommendations on a carbon pollution budget that gives a two out of three chance of meeting the internationally agreed goal of avoiding more than 2°C warming. For a country exposed to extreme weather that is being put on steroids by global warming, Australia should be doing more, and encouraging others to do more as well.”
More than 190 countries, including Australia, have committed internationally to avoiding 2°C warming. Climate spokespeople for the government and the ALP have recommitted to this goal in the last few weeks. However, the omission of the goal in the government’s Post-2020 Target Issues Paper and the Energy White Paper has sown confusion about its position.
Connor said: “It is important that the Climate Change Authority has considered targets that are linked to a 2°C carbon budget. This links our short-term pollution reductions with our longer-term interests, giving the community and investors clearer signals on the direction of policy."
"If you use a science-based approach to defining targets and carbon budgets, you are left with one inescapable conclusion - we are burning the budget quickly and need to plan for an economy of net zero pollution in just a few decades. This means that if you don't have a plan for net zero emissions, you don't have plan to address climate change."
The draft report is among the inputs to the government’s decision-making process on an indicative post-2020 emissions reduction target to be announced mid year. That target will be Australia’s initial offer towards end of year climate change negotiations in Paris. A final Climate Change Authority report will be issued in 2016 as governments finalise commitments into the framework agreed in Paris.
While Australia considers its target, international scrutiny over the credibility of its climate policies and ambition is mounting, as highlighted earlier this week by questions posed by China, the US and other major emitters on Australia’s 2020 target and policies.
“Both major political parties should use this draft report as the doorway to the stronger and more credible emissions reductions needed for a modern, smart and clean Australia,” said Connor.
“The Authority should strengthen its recommendations in its final report next year.”
“An independent Climate Change Authority is a core part of a credible climate change policy framework. Too many politicians have used spin not substance in justifying their climate change positions, so having a truly independent and expert umpire is critical to proper public discussion and policy development.”
For more information
Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director, 02 8239 6299