Mooted targets would confirm Australia as the global climate villain Opinion Article

Jul 14, 2015 - 11:30am

This article was first published in Climate Spectator on 14 July 2015. 

Erwin Jackson        
Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute

There has been some speculation in the media today that the government is considering an emissions target of between 15% and 25% below 2005 by 2030. The current minimum 2020 target is 13% below 2005 levels.

To do our bit to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Australia would need to reduce emissions by 2030 by around 65% on 2005 levels.

Both a 15 or a 25% target would be big fail on both climate action and competitiveness grounds. These targets would leave Australia languishing at the back of the pack at best, and at worst the most pollution-intensive developed economy.

While other countries are taking serious steps to limit pollution and modernise and clean up their economies, Australia would continue to lose its competitive position in a world moving to zero-carbon economy.

The table and figure below indicates that a 15% target would fall well short of the targets announced by countries similar to Australia while a 25% target would put us well towards the back of the pack.

The dark orange shaded numbers indicate that the target is the worst among developed economies. The light orange indicates it is in the worst three. The average middle of the pack are also indicated in blue and on all counts these targets will leave Australia falling well short.

The three figures illustrate this graphically.



The first ranks the countries by the rate at which they are seeking to reduce emissions after 2020. The last two shows countries' estimated per capita and emission intensity if the targets are achieved. The targets would leave Australia as the most polluting country, in relative terms, of any developed economy in 2030.

To see – the in many cases significant – actions countries are taking to taking to meet their targets, visit The Climate Institute's Global Climate Action Map.

Erwin Jackson

Erwin is Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute. With nearly 20 years practical experience in climate change policy and research, Erwin has developed and led many national and international programs aimed at reducing greenhouse pollution. This work has been undertaken in Australia, Europe, North and South America, the Pacific and Antarctica. He has represented non-governmental groups and advised government and business in national, regional and international fora, including being a non-governmental expert reviewer of the reports of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Erwin has written, researched and produced many publications on climate change and energy policy including a number of review papers in scientific journals such as the Medical Journal of Australia.
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