Post-2020 target: The most important test of climate credibility in a decade Media Release

Mar 28, 2015 - 1:30pm

The Climate Institute today welcomed the release of the government’s post-2020 Emissions Reduction Target Issues Paper but warned the government that it risked failing the most important test of climate credibility this decade.

“The decision on Australia’s post-2020 emissions reductions target is the most important test of climate commitment and credibility this decade,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute.

“What emissions reductions Australia decides to target in 2025 or 2030 will make crystal clear whether we intend helping achieve the internationally agreed goal of avoiding two degrees warming or not.”

“This Issues Paper reveals a government risking failure of this key test of climate credibility.”

“In the Intergenerational Report earlier this month, the government recognised the internationally agreed goal of avoiding two degrees warming, yet there is no mention of this goal in the Issues Paper. In fact the Issues Paper is centred on a global energy scenario that would take the world close to four degrees warming.”

The Issues Paper states that “by 2040, it is estimated that 74 per cent [of the world’s primary energy needs] will still be met by carbon-based sources because of growing demand in emerging economies.(p5)” This is based on the International Energy Agency (IEA) New Policies scenario, which assumes only existing policies and proposals are implemented. This assumes that no countries will take any further action for the next 25 years. The IEA admits this scenario would witness warming of at least 3.6 degrees (World Energy Outlook 2014).

Connor said: “A world of four degrees warming would be disastrous for Australia’s economy, security and environment. Current global policies do have us on the path but, unlike in Australia, other major emitters are moving to increase not decrease credible climate action.”

“New targets indicated by the USA, EU and China will be achieved through modernising their economies and switching from unabated fossil fuels to clean energy. To match the US’ 2025 target, Australia's 2025 emissions reductions target would need to be around a 30 per cent below 2000 levels.”

“A world acting to avoid two degrees warming is a world that will not want as much of our fossil fuels and we will need to manage, not ignore, this reality.” 

The Climate Institute’s submission to the Climate Change Authority recommended Australian emissions reduction goals below 2000 levels of 40 per cent by 2025 and net zero emissions between 2040 and 2050.

“The Climate Institute welcomes this Issues Paper and its call for new policy options to achieve any new target."

“For any policy suite to be stable in the long-term the government, and indeed the ALP, need to have a clear focus on decarbonising our economy. Their post-2020 targets will be a clear test of both their climate credibility,” concluded Connor. 

The government has committed to deciding its post-2020 target and sharing this internationally by mid-year.

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