Greens accuse Coalition of “cooking books” – and planet – on emissions

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Greens call out federal Coalition’s “dodgy accounting” efforts to minimise emissions targets, as government says heatwaves and droughts will reduce abatement because it is killing crops.

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The Australian Greens have slammed the federal Coalition for using “dodgy accounting” to try to wriggle out of our international climate commitments, after the Morrison government quietly published a glowing report on emissions projections report on Friday.

The government report, which opens by stating that “Australia will surpass its 2020 target and the task to meet the 2030 target has declined,” says the nation is “overachieving” on its targets, despite the fact that recent studies have shown Australia is on track to miss its Paris pledge by nearly a billion tonnes.

Astoundingly – and just days after the Bureau of Meteorology’s State of the Climate 2018 report warned of increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in Australia – the report also appears to note that its 2030 target has been made easier because rising temperatures and heatwaves have hampered the nation’s agriculture industry.

“Agricultural sector emissions are projected to grow to 2030. However, the current drought has constrained production and short-term growth, meaning the starting level of emissions in 2021 are lower. This results in less cumulative emissions from agriculture than in the 2017 projections.”

But the greater outrage comes over confirmation that the government intends to use the controversial Kyoto overhang of credits negotatiated in the Howard era. Greens climate change and energy spokesperson Adam Bandt said the report confirms the government intends to “cook the books” on climate to halve its “measly targets.”

“Today the government quietly tried to take out the trash that shows how they’re planning to cook the books on climate change,” said Bandt in a statement on Friday.

“We’re one of the worst polluters in the world. Instead of trying to wriggle out of our climate commitments and inhibiting coordinated global action to reduce emissions, we should be leading the way and encouraging other countries to follow.”

Australia’s use of dodgy accounting methods to measure its climate action by is nothing new. Indeed, the practice harks back to the rules that it won in the Kyoto negotiations.

As Giles Parkinson reported here, those rules have allowed Australia to dramatically increase its emissions to meet the first phase of Kyoto, do little or nothing for the second phase, and they may now be carried over even further to offset its targets under Paris.

But the Morrison government’s brazen use of this “trickery” in the face of what many describe as a rapidly worsening global catastrophe, and their steadfast refusal – reiterated at yesterday’s COAG Energy Council meeting – to push for deeper emissions cuts in the electricity sector, are particularly galling.

“So far, the government’s only plan to meet Paris appears to be using dodgy accounting to cook the books and count dodgy ‘carryover’ credits from Kyoto towards Paris,” Bandt said.

“Because they can’t reduce emissions, the government is resorting to dodgy accounting to meet our measly Paris targets.”

And he called on federal Labor – which is increasingly looking like a credible contender in the upcoming federal election – to rule out using the same dodgy tricks to meet their own, much more ambitious, emissions reduction commitments.

“We expect a government of climate deniers to use dirty tricks to shirk their climate responsibilities, but not Labor.

“Other major countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany voluntarily cancelled their Kyoto carryover credits. Instead of shaping up to profit from climate denialism, Labor needs to show some spine and do the same.”

Labor was also not impressed.

“In 2018 the Liberals, yet again, ditched an energy policy which would deliver emissions reduction in the energy sector,” climate and energy spokesman Mark Butler said.

“In 2018 Scott Morrison appointed an Energy Minister who describes the need for taking action on climate change as “blind faith” and an Environment Minister who says “I doubt anyone could pinpoint the day they (emissions) can reduce. No one can pinpoint that.

“In 2018 the Liberals produced no plan to reduce emissions in the land, industrial, transport or other sectors of the economy. This is against a backdrop where this year Australia has seen deadly bushfires, devastating drought and carbon emissions now at their highest level since 2011.

It is clear the Liberals are burying their heads in the sand and ignoring the vast majority of Australians who are crying out for desperate action on climate change.”

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