Climate Change Authority prepares harsh assessment of Morrison’s policy failure

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Climate Change Authority to issue new advice to government on climate policies, citing falling technology costs and rising emissions as reasons to do something.

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Credit: AAP/Dan Himbrechts
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The Morrison Government faces being called-out on its lack of action on climate change, with the Climate Change Authority flagging it will issue updated advice to the Government on the policies needed to meet Australia’s emissions reduction targets, and reminding it that these targets will need to be lifted.

In a media release and in two discussion papers released on Thursday, the Climate Change Authority says believes it is now necessary to update is recommendations to government on the suite of policies needed for Australia to adequately comply with its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Amongst the reasons cited by the authority for the need to provide updated advice is Australia’s surging national emissions, which have risen steadily since the repeal of the carbon price in 2014.

Other reasons include continued developments in technology, including falls in the costs of renewable energy techologies and advances in the scientific understanding of climate change, and the necessary action required by countries to meet the Paris goals of limiting warming to below 2 degrees.

To stimulate the consultation, the authority has also released a series of stocktake reports on action being taken on climate change, including a new paper on mitigation actions being taken by in Australia.

An earlier paper, examining the Government’s action on reduction emissions, showed that the Climate Change Authority recognised that Australia is not on track to meet its Paris targets.

“Since the Authority last provided its advice to Government on the policy toolkit required to meet the Paris Agreement, a number of developments have occurred in Australia and around the world in terms of climate change science, economics and policy,” the CCA said upon release of the consultation paper.

The updated advice will seek to provide recommendations that ensure Australia is well-placed to meet its 2030 emissions target and that are consistent with meeting subsequent targets with enhanced ambition that put Australia on a path to net zero emissions, consistent with the Paris Agreement framework.”

In its previous advice to the government, the Climate Change Authority recommended that Safeguard mechanism be strengthened, extending the coverage of the mechanism and removing the ability for emitters to apply for less stringent emissions caps.

The authority also recommended that some form of carbon pricing be applied to the electricity sector, and that emissions reduction standards should be introduced in the transport sector.

The Coalition government has previously sought to dismantle the CCA, and when it couldn’t starved it of funds, and changed the board. Two of the original board members resigned in protest at its defenestration.

The Department of Environment and Energy subsequently completed its own “review” of the government’s climate change policies, effectively rejecting the Climate Change Authority’s recommendations and concluded that it had sufficient policies in place.

The Climate Change Authority review will serve as a reminder that the Government currently has no plans for reducing emission in the electricity sector, and has softened the emissions controls under the Safeguard Mechanism.

It also further highlights the lack of engagement by the federal coalition government on even making progress towards developing a new policy for reducing emissions.

State energy ministers are growing restless about the lack of engagement through the COAG Energy Council. The council had met regularly under prior federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg, as Frydenberg pushed the development of the National Energy Guarantee.

Since the National Energy Guarantee was shelved, new energy minister Angus Taylor has effectively sandbagged the forum, with the last face-to-face meeting of the council was held back in December last year.

With ministers expecting to meet at least twice a year, some ministers have expressed concern that no timeframes for the next meeting have been set, and Taylor is currently on leave.

Even Chair of the Energy Security Board, Kerry Schott has warned that energy minister Taylor will have to face up to the energy council at some point.

The Climate Change Authority was established under the Gillard Government in 2012 to provide advice to government about the setting of targets. Since the election of the Coalition Government in 2013, the authority has survived attempts at its abolition, and substantial turnover in board members, to still deliver climate change advice to government, even if that advice is not necessarily listened to.

The Climate Change Authority will receive submissions through to 23 August and hopes to deliver updated advice to the government by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, see also Barnaby’s bizzare Facebook rant: Most of us will die from starvation due to climate change

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