Emissions reduction targets being considered by the Abbott government fell well short of the targets adopted by comparable countries, and would establish Australia as the most polluting of any developed economy in 2030, the deputy CEO of The Climate Institute has warned.
In response to media speculation that the federal government was considering an emissions target of between 15-25 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, TCI’s Erwin Jackson said either number would amount to a “big fail”, considering that Australia would need to aim for around a 65 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 to do its bit to limit global warming to less than 2°C.
“Both a 15 or a 25 per cent target would be big fail on both climate action and competiveness grounds,” Jackson wrote on in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
“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,” he said.
To illustrate his point, Jackson referred to the below table, which shows just how far behind the pace Australia’s mooted targets are.
“The dark orange shaded numbers indicate that the target is the worst among developed economies,” he explains. “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 Climate Institute has also illustrated Australia’s position graphically…
The first (chart), says Jackson, ranks the countries by the rate at which they are seeking to reduce emissions after 2020. The last two show the countries estimated per capita and emission intensity if the targets are achieved. “(Both) targets would leave Australia as the most polluting country, in relative terms, than any developed economy in 2030,” he notes.
The Greens have also hit out at the reported targets, as well as to the newly announced delay before their release, calling it “deceptive and tricky” of the Abbott government to work from a 2005 baseline, when most other countries were measuring their cuts from emissions recorded in 2000.
“The independent, science-based Climate Change Authority has said we need to cut emissions 40-60 per cent by 2030. Tony Abbott is dreaming if he thinks 7.25 per cent is near enough,” said Greens deputy leader, Senator Larissa Waters.
“To say they’re considering cutting emissions 15-25 per cent by 2030, based on 2005 levels, actually means 7.25-18 per cent by the year 2000 baseline everyone else is using.
Waters said the only thing worse than such a “woeful ambition” from the Abbott government would be if it was backed by Labor.
“A target like that would be one of the weakest pledges made for the Paris climate conference so far, putting Australia right at the back of the pack internationally,” she said.
“Australia would either be seen as a global free-rider, or our weak targets would hijack strong global action.
“Tony Abbott’s refusal to make meaningful cuts to pollution is denying Australia great economic opportunities, and is condemning us all to disastrous climate change, which will have flow on effects in terms of health, national security, availability of food and water – everything.”