Cutting carbon pollution by at least a quarter key to credibility Media Release

Aug 31, 2008 - 8:01pm

Australia can reduce its carbon pollution by at least one quarter of 1990 levels by 2020 with smart policies and investments, a new technology model from The Climate Institute shows. 

With the debate to shift to carbon pollution reduction targets on Friday with Professor Garnaut making recommendations, the Institute also released a summary of the latest science of climate impacts for Australian states, Australia and the world from various targets. 
“After weeks of polluters seeking special deals this report shows with smart policies and investments, Australia can improve its carbon productivity and take advantage of billions of dollars of efficiency improvements,” said John Connor, Climate Institute CEO.
“Significant reductions in our energy sector can be achieved with investments over the next decade of around half of one per cent of this year’s GDP - $46.6 billion. There are also billions of dollars savings possible in improved efficiency, savings not included in BCA’s modeling.”.

Over the last year The Climate Institute has worked with leading energy modelers MMA to produce a “bottom-up” model of Australia’s carbon pollution reduction potential. An interactive version  of the model will soon to be released enabling users to identify differing scenarios of technologies and strategies needed to reach selected emission reduction targets.
The scenario in the report released today shows that more than half of the pollution reduction can be achieved at a net saving to the economy. The bulk of this lies in the large un-tapped opportunities to improve energy efficiency in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.
“What this scenario also shows is that scientifically credible targets won’t be achieved by the Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme alone. A range of additional measures are needed, including strong energy efficiency measures and a focus on public transport, urban design and agriculture.”
“With a target of at least 25 per cent carbon pollution reduction, Australia can be a positive player in global negotiations to help achieve global targets so clearly in our national interest. Anything less would return Australia to the climate laggard role we have just shrugged off.”
As part of a global response, industrialised countries as a group need to reduce emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. This scientific range was included as guidance for industrialised countries in the Kyoto talks agreed at the 2007 UN Bali Climate talks.
“The time for soft starts is over. Unless industrialised countries reduce emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 we risk severe climate impacts such as the collapse of the Amazon rainforest. These and other forests are the ‘lungs’ of the world and their collapse would release billions of tones of greenhouse emissions, further risking triggering runaway climate change.”
Climate Impacts and Emission Targets shows that a global carbon pollution target of 550 parts per million would almost certainly increase global temperatures beyond a two degree rise on pre-industrial levels with impacts for Australia of up to 300% increases in extreme fire weather days, a high risk of the irreversible melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet which would raise sea level by several metres and the disappearance of the Great Barrier Reef as we know it. 
“Cutting our carbon pollution to at least a quarter of 1990 levels is not only achievable, it’s vital to our credibility in the realpolitik of the global climate talks,” concluded Mr Connor.


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