How do you measure climate action progress? As a new fact sheet released on Wednesday by The Climate Institute notes, the Lima Call for Climate Action, agreed to by more than 190 countries – including Australia – outlines the international community’s key benchmarks and expectations for new post-2020 emissions reductions targets.
It states: “…each Party’s intended nationally determined contribution towards achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2 will represent a progression beyond the current undertaking of that Party”.
According to the Climate Institute, this is broadly interpreted internationally to mean that each target a country takes on will be more ambitious than its last target, with no backsliding on commitments allowed.
And it has specific implications for Australia’s post-2020 emissions reductions goal, which the government is currently developing.
So how does Australia rate? Let’s say Australia set a target based on our current rate of reduction of about 0.5 per cent per year. This would produce a target of 7 per cent in 2025.
While that’s a higher number than the minimum 5 per cent 2020 target in absolute terms, says The Climate Institute, it does not accelerate the rate of emissions reductions – an approach that is “unlikely to be credible internationally” and is almost certainly inconsistent with Australia fairly contributing to the agreed global objective of limiting warming to less than 2°C.
As the chart below shows, Australia’s current rate of emissions reductions to achieve its minimum target is very low compared with other advanced economies, with the exception of Japan.
“Most other advanced economies comparable with Australia are not only increasing their absolute emissions reductions but also the rate at which these are occurring,” the CI report says.
It also shows that most countries’ initial post-2020 targets represent increases in their annual rates of emissions reductions. The implications of the targets recommended for Australia by the Climate Change Authority (CCA) and the rates of emissions reductions for past targets are also shown for comparison.