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

Oct 28, 2013 - 7:55am

Despite speculation to the contrary, both major parties maintain their bipartisan support for 2020 emissions reduction targets of 5 to 25 per cent below 2000 levels. These commitments have been made in Australia but also to international audiences with final determination in international UN negotiations by end of 2015. They have been repeated since the election. This is why the relevant test of the credibility of policies is the ability to achieve 25 per cent reductions. 

This credibility test is even more important when considered as a credible contribution towards a global effort to avoid an increase in average global temperatures of 2°C.  Australia, China, the US are amongst 190 other nations who have agreed that avoiding 2°C global warming is in their national and collective interests. 

The Climate Institute recently released a brief on Australia’s climate risks with warming above of 2°C. CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and others have listed potential impacts including: very extreme bushfire days occurring four to five times more in south-eastern Australia; irrigated agricultural value in the Murray Darling falling up to 50 per cent, and; increasing demand for aid, disaster and security support as low lying regional populations are displaced. 

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.  

The Coalition Government, to its credit, has reaffirmed its support for the 5 per cent reductions and conditions for change. 

Below is a catalogue of some statements from the Prime Minister and Environment Minister Greg Hunt on their support for emission targets of between 5-25 per cent reductions on 2000 levels by 2020. The Minister, also to his credit, talks about targets in the plural even in the last few days of the election campaign[ii], or about the 5 per cent target and conditions for change. 

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.  In addition to the Majuro Declaration, the agreements include:

  • 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 Copenhagen Accord agreed outside the formal UNFCCC.

Please see the full Media Brief, with the table, below.

For more information

Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director. The Climate Institute, 02 8239 6299

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