Independent Authority smashes the fishbowl of Australian carbon politics Media Release

Oct 30, 2013 - 10:15am

The independent Climate Change Authority has smashed the fishbowl of Australia’s carbon politics, which has pretended that a 5 per cent emissions reduction target is a fair contribution to global action. 

“The Government should adopt at least the 15 per cent option as an interim minimum emissions reduction target, but it’s the 25 per cent reduction option that should be our goal, as it is the only target that allows Australia to credibly work with other nations to help keep to below 2ºC of global warming,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute.  

“The report confirms that Australia’s current 5 per cent minimum emission reduction commitment is internationally inadequate and fails to support our national climate interest in keeping below 2ºC of global warming.” 

“This draft report from the independent Authority smashes the fishbowl of Australian carbon politics, which has pretended that the 5 per cent target is a fair contribution to global climate action. It should break the stranglehold that the 5 per cent target has had on our political imagination and debate.” 

The 5 per cent target is the minimum 2020 reduction below 2000 levels under the bipartisan target range of 5 to 25 per cent reductions. The Climate Institute has noted that the Coalition Government, to its credit, has continued to support that range and its conditions for change. (See Media Brief.) 

The Authority in today’s report has concluded that the conditions to move above 5 per cent have been met. 

The Climate Institute recently released a brief on Australia’s climate risks with warming above 2ºC. CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and others have also listed potential impacts, including: very extreme bushfire days occurring four to five times more in south-eastern Australia; irrigated agricultural value in the Murray Darling falling up to 50 per cent, and; increasing demand for aid, disaster and security support as low lying regional populations are displaced. 

“This draft report highlights that any climate policy framework must be capable of achieving stronger emission cuts than Australia’s minimum 5 per cent target. The climate credibility test for any policy framework is the ability to achieve 25 per cent reductions with deep cuts thereafter,” Connor said.  

The Climate Change Authority was created as an independent body to make a final recommendation on targets in February 2014. The Government is required to respond by May 2014. If emission limits are not agreed, emission reductions of 12 million tonnes per year kick in (ss17, 18 Clean Energy Act 2011). 

“Climate change will not stop in 2020. The Climate Institute welcomes the intention of the Authority to recommend a long-term carbon budget to 2050. Major emission reductions that are much stronger than our current 2020 targets will be required after 2020, the Authority’s draft 2030 target of a 35-50 per cent reduction appears smaller than Australia’s fair share of reductions which our analysis indicates should be 60 per cent.” 

Connor concluded: “For now, the Government should adopt the 15 per cent target as our interim minimum target, but the 25 per cent option is the only option if we are serious about our national climate interest.” 

“The Government should detail how its proposed policies can achieve those and deeper reductions before repealing the current policy framework which, though not perfect, can.” 

For more information

Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director, The Climate Institute, 02 8239 6299

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