Taylor's 2030 emissions strategy: assume government projections are wrong | RenewEconomy

Taylor’s 2030 emissions strategy: assume government projections are wrong

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Australia spent two weeks derailing international climate talks for a “Kyoto surplus” that Angus Taylor says it now doesn’t need. But how can this be true?

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Credit: AAP/Lukas Coch
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Federal energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor now believes Australia can meet its 2030 emissions reduction target without the need of surplus Kyoto units, despite Australia spending the last two weeks derailing international climate talks by pushing for their inclusion.

Taylor told the Australian Financial Review that he has a growing expectation that Australia could achieve its 2030 emissions reduction target without needing to rely on the use of “overachievement” from the 2020 target.

It confirms earlier reports from other sources that Taylor and Australian diplomats had started using this line in Madrid. As one attendee told RenewEconomy: “They were running that line in meetings which made their obstinacy more amazing and annoying to other countries.”

Taylor told the AFR that Australia is “already on track” to beat its 2030 targets.

“Our track record for finding additional abatement year-on-year has been extraordinary. There is a broad recognition that Australia has over-delivered. There are few countries with our track records.”

“That’s our approach, which is to over-deliver, and we will look to over-deliver to 2030 as well,” Taylor added.

Is this true? Taylor has said repeatedly that he has a plan to emission reductions “to the very last tonne”, despite his department being less confident of the fine details.

But as they currently stand, projections of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, prepared by the Department of the Environment and Energy, show Australia’s emissions out to 2030 declining by just 16 per cent compared to 2005 levels, and well short of the 26 to 28 per cent target set by the government.

Not once has the Department of Environment and Energy’s projections of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions shown that Australia is on track to meet its 2030 emissions reduction target.

The latest projections still clearly show the Morrison government is expecting to rely upon the use of “overachievement” in Kyoto, which were largely generated as a result of overly soft targets under the Kyoto Protocol, to reach the 2030 target.

Source: Department of the Environment and Energy

To say that Australia could now be on track to meet the 2030 target without using credit from “overachievement” is a bizarre claim, as it means Taylor is effectively banking on the recently updated greenhouse gas emissions projections prepared by his department being wrong.

It doesn’t demonstrate much confidence on the government’s ability to predict Australia’s emissions, particularly in light of recent revisions to Australia’s historical emissions figures, which saw emissions for some years revised upwards by as much as 6 per cent, due to changes in the accounting of land-use emissions.

If it is true that Taylor now expects to meet the 2030 target without needing to draw upon the overachievement, it raises the question of why the Australian government pushed so hard at the recent COP25 talks in Madrid to be allowed to use it.

Australia attracted significant criticism from other countries for effectively derailing the talks by opposing attempts to prevent surplus units being carried over into the Paris Agreement, leading the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres to label the talks as a “lost opportunity“.

Negotiators walked away from the Madrid talks because countries like Australia and Brazil refused to cede ground on their intentions to use surplus Kyoto protocol units. Countries ultimately agreed to disagree and will revisit the issue at the next round of climate talks in Glasgow.

That the early projections of Australia’s emissions significantly overestimated future levels is uncontentious. This hasn’t been so much to do with ambitious government policy, or the government’s ability to “overdeliver”, but rather a mix of the benefit of hindsight and other jurisdictions stepping in to take action.

Just a couple of decades ago, conventional wisdom said that as the economy grew, energy use would follow this growth. However, in the last ten years, Australia has seen relatively flat growth in electricity demand, as the emergence of behind the meter renewables and a transition to service-based industries have worked to reduce demand from the National Electricity Market, that is primarily powered by coal.

The National Electricity Market itself is undergoing a transformation, as the falling costs of renewable energy technologies have seen wind and solar gradually begin to reduce our reliance coal and gas throughout the market.

However, as the environment and energy department concedes on the most recent emissions projections, recent and future growth in renewables will largely be driven by ambitious State-based renewable energy targets, with little incentive being provided on the part of the federal government.

If Taylor now expects to meet the 2030 target without the use of surplus Kyoto units, it is because he is relying on other governments to do the heavy lifting.

While the federal government’s Renewable Energy Target peaks in 2020, offering little incentive for new projects beyond that date, the government is also anticipating Australia’s renewable energy generation to double between 2020 and 2030, supplying half of Australia’s electricity.

Outside of the electricity sector, which only accounts for around a third of Australia’s emissions, little has changed. Emissions in the transport and industrial sectors has grown, as have emissions from LNG production.

Agricultural emissions have fallen in recent years, but not for any reason the federal government would wish to celebrate.

As highlighted by the Climate Council, the combined effects of floods and drought have had a significant impact on Australian cattle production, causing emissions to fall. However, assuming there is some relief from these impacts in the future, the fall in emissions may be short lived.

“The suffering of our farmers who are destocking in the face of drought, and the hard work of the renewables sector have meant that Australia’s emissions have stalled,” Climate Council senior researcher Tim Baxter said.

“Sadly, this drop is a blip. Renewables investment is set to dry up in the coming months. Our LNG exports are set to continue increasing.”

“We need urgent and long-term cuts to our emissions in order to address the climate crisis. This requires our Federal Government to adopt a credible climate policy,” the Climate Council’s head of research Dr Martin Rice added.

“Australians are suffering as a result of a warming climate because of the burning of coal, oil and gas. We are living with unprecedented bushfires, drought and heatwaves which have all been made worse by climate change.”

The Australia Institute has proposed the creating of a ‘fossil fuel levy’, in response to the growing impacts of climate change on communities, which would see a modest carbon price applied to fossil fuel production of $1 per tonne. The levy would allow for funds to be collected and used to compensate communities impacted by floods, drought and bushfires.

Australia urgently needs a dedicated, independently administered fund to cope with the ever-increasing costs of these disasters,” The Australia Institute’s principal advisor Mark Ogge said.

“A $1 per tonne levy would have virtually no effect on energy prices or coal jobs, but would be a huge help to everyone being affected by the damage these activities are causing.”

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10 Comments
  1. Ren Stimpy 3 months ago

    That’s absolutely no surprise from a Government Minister who has willingly channeled FORGED documents to his troll friends in the Murdoch Media.

    The real question is why this corrupted shit-frig is still a Government Minister?????

  2. JIm 3 months ago

    “If it is true that Taylor now expects to meet the 2030 target without needing to draw upon the overachievement, it raises the question of why the Australian government pushed so hard at the recent COP25 talks in Madrid to be allowed to use it.”

    Good article but…perhaps Renew Economy could avoid using Newspeak like ‘overachievement’ for what amounts to creative accounting apparently without legal basis or majority international support!

  3. Joe 3 months ago

    A ‘Fossil Fuel Levy’ is a nice thought, just don’t mention the words ‘Carbon Tax’ if you have any wish at all for the Fossil Fuellers to start paying directly for the damage they inflicting. I nearly choked on my breakfast cereal this morning as I read that article in The AFR about Taylor supposedly now backsliding on this (bullshit) Kyoto ‘carry over credits’ business because Taylor, ‘Australia’s Number 1 numbers man’, now reckons Australia is bang on track and bang on target to meet and cream the Paris Agreement. ‘Australia’s Number 1 numbers man’ Taylor and his effort at COP25 has me confused as hell now. Well which is it now then; we need those (bullshit) Kyoto ‘carry over credits’ because we can (?) and we desperately need it to meet the Paris Agreement; or we don’t need those ( bullshit) Kyoto ‘carry over credits’ because ( we won’t be allowed when COP26 Glasgow says, ‘Cha’) and anyway we meeting and creaming the Paris Agreement…..”in a canter”. Which one is it? And please Angus, not a repeater tweet…”Fantastic, Great move. Well done Angus”.

  4. John Wass 3 months ago

    Critical thinkers know that Taylor is lying re Australia’s carbon pollution. However he knows that the media will report these lies as truth and some if not many people will believe these lies and be reassured that the L N P are acting in tn Australia’s interests.

  5. Glynn Palmer 3 months ago

    I am convinced that all LNP federal politicians and ministers received a memo telling them to talk positive about everything that is affected by government policy.

    But Angus Taylor is talking positive crap if he says we will achieve our 26-28% reductions.
    Our emissions have been, and are forecast to be in million tonnes per annum:
    1990 excluding land use 420.2; including land use 604.8
    2000 excluding land use 485; including land use 536.2
    2005 excluding land use 521.8; including land use 610.7
    2019 excluding land use 551.3; including land use 532.1
    2030 projected excl land use 521; including land use 511
    2030 26% target including land use 451; 28% target incl land use 439.
    Our projected emissions by 2030, excluding land use (LULUCF), will be 521mtpa the same as they were 25 years earlier in the Paris base year 2005. Our emissions including land use will be 60-72mtpa higher than our 26%-28% reduction target. While electricity, waste, and LULUCF combined will reduce by a 168mtpa 56%, the remaining sectors will increase by 69mtpa 22%. Stationery direct combustion increases by 29%, transport by 31%, fugitive by 52%.

    • Ren Stimpy 3 months ago

      Just a whole lot of crap nobody will read. What’s the purpose of posting all that except as per Joe has done here to intentionally dilute the argument to sack Taylor?

  6. Aluap 3 months ago

    Taylor seems to have Morrison by the b**ls.

  7. pete guaron 3 months ago

    Taylor and Morrison have disgraced Australia.

    And they have put the future of the entire planet in jeopardy with their nonsense. As Apple has repeatedly pointed out, this is not something they can debate. There is only one sensible course of action. And that is to DO something about the climate crisis.

  8. phred01 3 months ago

    The wonder of smoke & mirrors

  9. Phil NSW 3 months ago

    So the natural assumption to make of Taylor’s statement is he expects the drought to continue and farm productivity to remain low.
    We all know (the whole world now knows) Taylor is a pathological liar. I wish his electorate was more attuned to his deceptions. Glynn Palmers comments below demonstrate the level to which he is misleading us. Why isn’t the parliament reacting to it?
    Australia’s only mechanism is to prove he has lied to parliament and have him removed. Trump has been impeached and if they vote on party lines in the senate then we will witness another travesty of justice and to the environment.

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