Coalition commitment to 5-25 per cent emissions reduction targets Media Brief

Sep 05, 2013 - 2:26pm

Despite speculation to the contrary and though re-commitments were muted, both major parties maintain their bipartisan support for 2020 emissions reduction targets of 5 to 25 per cent below 2000 levels. This is why the relevant test of the credibility of policies is the ability to achieve 25 per cent reductions.

Speculation has focused on the Coalition’s commitment particularly when Tony Abbott said that the Coalition would not spend more than already allocated on its Emission Reduction Fund (ERF). He and Opposition spokesperson, however, have continued to state their belief that the ERF will achieve the 5 per cent target. The Coalition’s 2010 “Direct Action Plan” stated that ERF:

“arrangements can be changed to meet the obligations of any global agreements to which Australia may become a signatory, or amended to reflect the approaches taken by our major trading partners and big global emitters.  The Coalition remains committed to its previously announced target range.” (p15)

This “target range” is the same as the Government’s, a position that dates back to 2009 and continues to this day. This was reaffirmed in the last days of the election campaign by the Coalition giving support to the caretaker ALP government signing on to the Majuro declaration at the Pacific Island Forum. This explicitly included the addition to its schedule Australian commitments to action which included both this target range and the 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target.

Below is a catalogue of some statements from Coalition leader Tony Abbott and climate change spokesperson Mr Hunt on their support for emission targets of between 5-25 per cent reductions on 2000 levels by 2020. Mr Hunt to his credit keeps talking about targets in the plural even in the last few days of the election campaign.

The Climate Institute obtained under Freedom of Information laws a personal letter from Tony Abbott to the Prime Minister in 2010 outlining his direct support for Australia’s emission targets. The key paragraph is:

While the approach is different, the targets remain and since Copenhagen have been entrenched in what has been progress in international negotiations. As such, these targets of up to 25 per cent reductions are promises made not only to Australians but also, with Coalition support, to other countries by inclusion in international agreements:

  • The Kyoto Protocol: In December 2012, Australia signed amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to take on a new binding emission reduction commitment from 2013-2020. This includes reference to the full target range and an undertaking to review the current minimum commitment to increase ambition in 2014. Taking on a second Kyoto commitment had in principle support from the Coalition.  
  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: In 2011, Australia submitted its full target range in line with all other major economies under the UNFCCC’s Cancun Agreements.
  • Copenhagen Accord: In 2010, Australia submitted its full target range in line with all other major economies under the UNFCCC Cancun Agreements.
For the full table of Coalition promises on 5-25 per cent reduction targets, download the Media Brief below.  

For more information
Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299
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