Nov 03, 2016 - 9:30am
The NSW Coalition government’s announcement today that it has set an objective to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, marks a significant step forward for state and national climate policy development and accountability, The Climate Institute said today.
“Premier Baird, Environment Minister Speakman and the NSW Coalition government are to be congratulated for the climate policy framework announced today,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. “There are challenges and opportunities ahead for NSW, but the net zero emissions objective and policy initiatives on energy, climate resilience, and integrating carbon risks and opportunities into decision making are welcome.”
The objective of net zero emissions is being increasingly shared by leading businesses and governments in Australia and around the world. Net zero emissions has zoomed into the mainstream as one of the core credibility test of climate policy and was a key commitment by over 190 countries, including Australia, in the Paris Agreement made last December.
“With NSW now joining Victoria, South Australia and the ACT, over half of national emissions are now covered by governments targeting net zero emissions by 2050.”
Critically, the Paris Agreement becomes a legally binding international treaty tomorrow. In Paris, Australia and other countries committed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, limit global warming to 1.5-2°C and increase climate resilience. The physical reality of those warming goals is that countries like Australia will need a more credible emissions reduction pathway to be at net zero emissions before 2050.
“The regular ratchet and review mechanisms in the Paris agreement, growing concerns and action amongst investors and financial regulators, consumer preferences and increasing affordability of alternatives, mean there is now a race to secure opportunities in technologies and economies geared towards net zero emissions.”
“The announcement by the NSW government todays indicates it wants to be among the winners in this race.”
In March 2015 The Climate Institute released Going for Zero: State Decarbonisation Strategies for Prosperity in a Zero Emissions world with many but not all recommendations adopted in this NSW Strategy. In August 2016, it released research into the implications of the Paris agreement which included the need for more credible emissions reductions pathways to net zero emissions before 2050.
“Not all state-based initiatives are perfect or yet fully integrated with this objective, which should also be adopted nationally. As recent events, and today’s pending announcement of the closure of Hazelwood Power station have shown, Australia is still lacking a forward-looking, nationally coordinated plan for net zero emissions including steadily replacing coal fired power with clean energy. Land-clearing gains of the 90s and 2000s are under threat and carbon farming opportunities face an uncertain future.”
Mr Connor said, “the NSW government’s Climate Change Policy Framework is smart to recognise that national commitments, including Australia’s, made before the Paris Agreement don’t add up to the warming goal commitments made at Paris. The public interest of NSW citizens will benefit from NSW government advocacy for a more credible national emissions reduction pathway to net zero emissions before 2050.”
“The national government’s 2017 review of its climate policies and consideration of post-2030 targets would do well to adopt or better this framework’s 2050 target and attempts to integrate climate risks and opportunities into decision making. Physics is beginning to catch up with politics and it is heartening to see both sides of the Australian political spectrum can engage with the risks as well as the opportunities of the climate challenge.”
“The adoption of a 2050 net zero emission objective is an important and historic development, shifting policy and accountability from the ambiguity of “low” carbon objectives. Now to action.”
Note to Editors: John Connor is a member of the NSW Climate Council which played an advisory role to the NSW Government as it developed its Climate Policy Framework.
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