USA ratchets up pollution reduction effort and pressure on Australia Media Release

Apr 01, 2015 - 9:00am

Pressure on Australia to announce a credible post-2020 emissions reductions target continues to build as the United States formally confirms it will nearly double its rate of emissions reductions, said The Climate Institute.

Overnight, the US formally submitted its target to cut carbon emissions by 26-28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2025 to the UN. They have joined a growing list of over 30 nations advising of their intentions to reduce emissions after 2020 - including the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Mexico. Australia has said that it will announce its intentions mid-year.

“This new US commitment illustrates how Australia has fallen behind our friends and allies in reducing carbon pollution. Already the US is reducing emissions twice as fast as we are, but this new target takes this up to three times. It is time for Australia to get its act together and start to do our fair share,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute.

The US is currently working towards a 2020 target, which requires emissions to drop by an average of 1.4 per cent per year. To meet its newly announced 2025 target, this rate must rise to 2.3 per cent between 2020 and 2025 (See figure below).

“This is a significant step up in ambition and reflects the kind of actions other major emitters are now starting to take as the world continues the shift from pollution-dependent economies to ones based on clean energy.”

“For Australia to match the US efforts, our post-2020 target would have to be around 30 per cent below 2000 levels by 2025. This is well beyond our current minimum target of 5 per cent by 2020, but still not sufficient to be a fair contribution to the internationally agreed goal of limiting global warming to less than 2°C. For that, our 2025 target should be 40 per cent below 2000 levels.”

The Obama Administration has ramped up climate action with stringent emission limits on vehicles and power plants, among other actions. Analysis shows the target is achievable.

Australia is weakening policies such as its renewable energy target and just released a discussion paper on emissions limits, which could in fact see pollution rise, not fall. The government’s Issues Paper on Australia’s post-2020 target is based on a scenario where global temperatures rise by nearly 4°C, not 2°C.

All countries are to submit their post-2020 emissions reduction targets well ahead of the November climate talks in Paris, where the new international framework for curbing global carbon pollution will be finalised.

“The US will need to accelerate its emission reduction rate even more to get on track with the internationally agreed 2°C goal. This is the metric by which all countries, including Australia, will ultimately be judged,” concluded Connor.

Figure: Average annual rates of targeted emissions reductions to achieve 2020 and 2025 targets.


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