Prime Minister Scott Morrison has conceded in an interview with ABC’s 7.30 program that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have “lifted” in the years following the election of the Coalition Government in 2013.
While that might be considered something of a breakthrough, Morrison also claimed credit for the investments being made in the renewable energy sector, claiming falsely that they were the result of Coalition policies, and ignoring Coalition efforts to scrap those same policies and institutions, such as the renewable energy target and ARENA.
When pressed by ABC 7.30 host Leigh Sales on Australia’s trend of increasing greenhouse gas emissions since 2013, Morrison conceded that emissions have been rising.
“Yeah, [emissions] have lifted, and we’ve also made sure, though, Leigh, that we will be meeting, and in fact exceeding, the Kyoto 2020 targets that we inherited.” Morrison told ABC’s 7.30 program.
“Because our commitment is to meet the targets we set internationally. There are the Kyoto 2020 targets and we will meet those. See, when we set a target, Leigh, we’ll meet it. We set a target for 2030 and we’ll meet it.”
To put this in context, and the Coalition does like to boast about the Kyoto efforts, the first Kyoto period (2008-2012) had a 108% target, allowing Australia to increase emissions from 1990. The second period (2013-2020) effectively had a 99.5% target, so a mere 0.5% reduction from 1990 levels.
But Morrision went on, falsely claiming credit for the renewables boom that the Coalition government, when Tony Abbott was in power, tried to stop.
“And that’s why we had $11 billion in renewable investment come in in 2017. That was the third highest per capita in the world and we have $25 billion of renewable energy investment out to 2020. Now, that is a significant level of investment coming into this country for renewable energy, and that’s all happened under our policy.”
No it didn’t. The RET is Labor’s policy – agreed to at the time by the Coalition, but scaled back by the Abbott government and saved from the scrap-heap only by the unlikely intervention of Clive Palmer, and his bizarre appearance with former vice president and climate activist Al Gore.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance has estimated that renewable energy investment in Australia grew to $9.5 billion in 2018 as investment ramps up to meet the renewable energy target that peaks in 2020.
However, recovery in investment comes after the industry collapsed dramatically in 2014, with the large-scale renewable sector coming to an almost complete standstill, after previous Abbott openly considered scraping the large-scale target altogether.
In highlighting the progress that has been made in Australia in shifting to renewable energy, Morrison also seemed to take credit for the significant growth in rooftop solar installations in Australia.
“And over that same time I can also tell you that there have been 2.1 million extra solar panels put on roofs in this country and we now have one in five homes which have solar panels on their roof, which is the highest level per capita in the world today.” Morrison told ABC 7.30.
Questions have been raised about the ability for the coalition’s current suite of climate change policies to meet Australia’s current 2030 emissions reduction pledge of reducing emissions by 26 per cent.
In analysing the Coalition’s climate change policies, ClimateWorks Australia has found that more is needed from the Coalition to meet its Paris pledge in an assessment of Coalition policy released in late 2018.
“Going forward to 2030, there is three times the potential needed to reach the government’s current 2030 target, but projections show this will not be harnessed under current policy settings.” ClimateWorks Australia CEO, Anna Skarbek said.
Figures released by the Department of the Environment and Energy laying out the “Climate Solutions Package” showing that the Coalition will lean heavily on carry-over permits from the 2020 Kyoto targets to achieve the 2030 Paris targets.
Scott Morrison’s concession that emissions have been rising is in contrast to the repeated assertions of his energy and environment ministers, but comes as a recognition of the Government’s own emissions data.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor told ABC’s Insiders in March that emissions were “coming down” despite data released by his own Department showing that emissions have been increasing year-on-year since the abolition of the carbon price in 2014.
Environment Minister Melissa Price has made a similar claim in February, that emissions had “plateaued” since 2006.
The Coalition has been pressured to increase the ambition of its emissions reduction targets.