The IPCC and Australia's Emissions Targets Research Brief

Apr 11, 2014 - 10:00am

On Sunday night Australian time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its latest report on the technical potential and economics of reducing carbon pollution. This report follows the release of the IPCC report on the physical science of climate change and subsequent report on climate change impacts and vulnerability.

A key element of the IPCC report coming out this weekend will be an assessment of the emission reductions required to avoid a  2°C increase in global temperature above preindustrial levels. Avoiding this increase in global temperature is a focus of the report and the current goal of over 190 governments, including Australia. It is also key benchmark that will be used to assess whether proposed national targets are adequate.

In its last carbon reduction or mitigation report in 2007, the IPCC indicated that countries like Australia would need to reduce emissions by 25-40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 and 80-95 percent by 2050 to give a 50/50 chance of avoiding a 2°C increase in global temperature. This target range became a benchmark by which national targets were discussed. For example, many nations (including Australia, the USA, the EU, Norway and Japan) indicated willingness to reduce emissions on this scale in advance of the Copenhagen climate summit.

The new report from the IPCC will likely have a similar impact. It is likely to indicate that global emissions need to fall significantly by 2030. Leaked draft versions indicate that countries like Australia will need to reduce emissions by 50 per cent on 2010 levels by 2030 to be consistent with the goal of avoiding 2°C. Over this same period, major emerging economies like China would need to see emissions peak and begin to fall.

For full details download the Research Brief below.

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