Australia failing climate targets as Paris deal comes into force

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New report says Australia on track to miss its 2030 emissions reduction target by a “large margin,” and that if other countries followed Australia’s lead, global warming would exceed 3°C to 4°C.

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A new assessment of the Coalition government’s climate change policies says Australia will fall well short of its “inadequate” Paris climate targets, and will likely increase emissions by nearly as much as it has promised to cut them.

The assessment from Climate Action Tracker says that Australia’s target falls well short of the effort needed to limit warming to below 2°C, let alone the stronger aspirational target of 1.5°C that was included in the Paris Agreement.

epa05049699 Prime minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull delivers a speech as he attends Heads of States' Statements ceremony of the COP21 World Climate Change Conference 2015 in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, 30 November 2015. The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) is held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December aimed at reaching an international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions and curtail climate change. EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON
Malcolm Turnbull delivers a speech at Heads of States’ Statements ceremony of the COP21 World Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris.

“If most other countries followed the Australia approach, global warming would exceed  3°C to 4°C,” the report says.

The Climate Action Tracker report is not the first to highlight Australia’s pathetically inadequate climate policies, nor will it be the last. A slew of reports is expected in coming days and weeks as the Paris Agreement comes into force from Friday and new climate talks begin in Marrakesh in Morocco on Monday.

Australia is likely to be questioned intensely by many countries, including its major trading partners, over its climate policies, particularly the effectiveness of its Direct Action policy, which prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has embraced despite ridiculing it before replacing Tony Abbott as leader just over a year ago.

Fairfax Media reported last month that China, the US and other countries have put more than 30 questions to the Turnbull government, asking for detail about how Australia will meet its 2030 emissions target and raising concerns about a lack of transparency over how the government calculates and reports emissions.

The Australian government has admitted it has not even modelled the impact of its own policies and whether they would reach their target, and it is unclear whether a promised 2017 review will lead to new policies or simply be a “situation report” on the current trajectory.

Others have done the modelling, though, which shows it comes up short. The Climate Change Authority has said previously – before its board was stacked with Coalition government appointees – that the Coalition’s target was well below what could be considered Australia’s “fair share”.

It says that Australia’s target should be 40 to 60 per cent below 2000 levels by 2030 (or around 45-65 per cent on 2005 levels, compared to the current target of 26-28 per cent).

The Climate Institute has said that with current targets, Australia’s per capita emissions in 2030 would be around three times higher than global per capita emissions benchmarks that are consistent with Paris Agreement objectives.

Australia, though, is not the only country to be dragging its heels. A new report to be released late Thursday will confirm that the world needs to lift its efforts because current policies are falling 25 per cent below what is required to meet the Paris target.

The Less Developed Country block on Wednesday said that the current Paris pledges have the world on course for 3-3.5°C of warming above pre-industrial levels. It wants stronger action, particularly from developed nations.

climate action tracker

The problem with Australia is that it is unclear whether it can meet its own inadequate INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution), the pledge lodged in Paris last year.

“To meet its 2030 emissions targets, Australian emissions should decrease by an average rate of 1.9 per cent per year until 2030; instead, with current policies, they are set to increase by an average rate of 1.2 per cent per year,” the Climate Action Tracker report says.

It also adds to questions around the Emissions Reduction Fund, which it says will not set the country on a path to meet its targets and may only be funding emission reduction projects that would have occurred anyway.

Under present policy settings, the report says, Australia’s emissions are set to substantially increase to more than 21 per cent above 2005 levels by 2030, equivalent to an increase of around 52 per cent above 1990 levels.

“Without accelerating climate action and additional policies, Australia will miss its 2030 target by a large margin, a conclusion supported by other analysts,” it notes.

“Of particular concern is the reversal of a declining trend in CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations following the removal of the carbon pricing and nascent emissions trading scheme and related legislation in the middle of 2014.

“As a consequence, emissions from electricity production, which had been covered by the scheme, are rising again while the federal government continues to create political uncertainty on the future of renewable energy.

“The federal government has questioned the efficacy of renewable energy and called for one state (South Australia) that had recently closed its last coal-fired power station to reopen it.

“To meet its inadequate 2030 emissions targets, Australian emissions need to decrease by an average annual rate of 1.9 per cent until 2030; instead, with current policies, they are set to increase by an average rate of around 1.2 per cent a year, dramatically illustrating the dichotomy between climate rhetoric and climate action. “f-school-letter-grade

Australia’s  INDC includes a target of reducing GHG emissions, including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), by 26–28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

After accounting for LULUCF, this target is equivalent to a range of around 5 per cent below to 5 per cent above 1990 levels of GHG emissions, excluding LULUCF in the year 2030. “We rate this target “inadequate”,” the Climate Action Tracker report says.

“It is not in line with most interpretations of a “fair” approach to reach a 2°C warming limit, let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit: if most other countries were to follow the Australian approach, global warming would exceed 3–4°C.

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8 Comments
  1. john 3 years ago

    I can picture the conversation now.
    ? Explain Direct Action.
    A Well it is action that is direct.
    ? Give me one example.
    A We pay councils to burn their methane.
    ? This is a new initiative.
    A No it has been done all the time we just pay them now.
    Comment. You do realize this is smoke and mirrors do you not ?
    A No it is direct and action.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      Sounds like those two guys the ABC used to have (forgot the names, sorry)… I reckon, like with Catalyst, they get rid of anything controversial for the current government!

      • john 3 years ago

        Clarke and Dawe, John Clarke and not sure about the Dawe i seem to think its Brian. Yes it does come to mind exactly the type of way the q and a would play out.

  2. Ken Dyer 3 years ago

    Even India has signed up to the Paris Agreement, and are taking steps to reduce emissions.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/10/02/india-ratifies-global-climate-agreement-on-gandhis-birthday/?utm_term=.5831d85fa808

    When this is taken into account, the Adani Coal Mine foot dragging exercise by the Federal and Queensland Governments to appease the right wing morons is brought into perspective.

    As this article in the Conversation points out, there are plenty of reasons to stop that mine NOW.

    http://theconversation.com/four-environmental-reasons-why-fast-tracking-the-carmichael-coal-mine-is-a-bad-idea-67449?

  3. Brad Sherman 3 years ago

    I think we need to get the WTO to sanction tariffs based on the carbon intensity of an exporting nation. The only thing our current government is ever likely to understand is competitive trade disadvantage. Such a tariff should get Australian exporters to lobby the government to DO SOMETHING.

    • Chris Fraser 3 years ago

      Yes … and I suspect they are going to Dread it. Another footnote of the awful Direct Action, which, after all was said and done, was transparent BS.

  4. Cooma Doug 3 years ago

    4 degrees c will happen under current policies but most will be dead well before that figure.

  5. OnionMan77 3 years ago

    Ausfailure National Tantrum

    Australians all let us remorse
    For we are blind, can’t see
    We’ve golden soil that we all spoil
    Our home washes into sea
    Our land abounds in racist gits
    Of whom we really can’t bear
    In history’s cage recompense the slaves
    Do Australians really care?
    In painful strains that left a sting
    Do Australians really care?

    Author: Adam Hill, 2009

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