Countries make progress to Paris as new guide launched to assess Australia's pollution ambitions Media Release

Jun 12, 2015 - 6:00am

The latest round of Bonn climate negotiations has concluded with modest progress being made on the Paris agreement for the end of the year. Eyes now turn more sharply to the credibility of Australia’s new post-2020 pollution target to be announced in July, The Climate Institute said today as it released a guide to Australia’s upcoming post-2020 pollution reduction targets.

“Climate negotiations are difficult because international frameworks put pressure on countries to take more action at home,” said Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute, from Bonn, Germany. “Hours of challenging work on refining the draft Paris agreement has made modest progress, and at the next meeting in August countries will have a more streamlined draft agreement for the final run into the Paris summit at the end of the year.”

The end of year Paris meeting aims to forge an agreement which creates an expectation that all countries will ratchet up action to help limit average global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (2°C) above pre-industrial levels.

Negotiators are working on an agreement that is bankable for investors; accountable and transparent to avoid countries free riding on the actions of others, and; fair in ensuring the world's most vulnerable countries are supported in low carbon development."

“The Australian government’s performance in Bonn was mixed,” said Jackson.

“In the procedural negotiations on the draft agreement the government played a mostly constructive role, seeking to accelerate progress.”

“Last week however, Australia couldn’t meet probing questions from countries like China, the USA and the UK on the credibility of current pollution reduction efforts and policies."

“The eyes of the international community will now turn to the credibility of the government’s draft post-2020 target to be announced in July. This will be the government’s biggest policy decision on climate change to date, and a key test of its commitment to help meet the internationally agreed goal of avoiding a 2°C rise in global warming,” Jackson said.

Before Paris, countries including Australia are expected to announce their draft post-2020 emissions reduction target and show how they are consistent with helping avoid 2°C warming. To inform the assessment of the Australian government’s draft post-2020 target, The Climate Institute released a detailed guide on how to assess the government’s announcement now due in July. The paper tests possible targets against key benchmarks:

  1. Is the target effective in addressing climate change? Is it a proportional contribution to less than 2, 3 or 4 degrees of global warming?

  2. Are we matching, catching up to, or lagging our peers? Australia’s per capita pollution and emissions intensity levels are higher than our peers in the USA, EU and other advanced economies – will we match, catch or lag these countries?

  3. Are we positioned to remain competitive in a world limiting emissions? Will Australia’s annual carbon productivity improvements (GDP/tonne of carbon pollution), go backwards, stagnate or progress towards ensuring a prosperous economy?

“The primary and core credibility test for the proposed target is whether it is consistent with a fair and ambitious contribution towards avoiding 2°C of warming,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute, from Sydney. “If the government puts forward a target which is not justified against this goal it will truly be a free rider asking other nations to do the our heavy lifting towards a net zero emission global economy.”

“Earlier this week at the G7 summit, the leaders of the world’s leading industrialised economies highlighted the need to decarbonise the global economy and transform their energy sectors. Backed by an ageing and inefficient coal-fired power stations, Australia is starting from behind. The level of our target will define whether we will continue to lag other nations or start to match the decarbonisation pathways of our international peers like the USA.”

“International signals to modernise economies based on clean energy are growing stronger. To remain competitive in a world limiting pollution we will need to accelerate our rate of decarbonisation and prosper through the modernisation of energy and other sectors,” said Connor.

For more information
Susan Cavanagh | Media Manager, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299

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