Current carbon laws to achieve six times more pollution reduction Media Release

Nov 21, 2013 - 8:00am

The current carbon laws are on course to reduce Australia’s emissions by around 15 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020 – overall six times more than previously estimated under the proposed Direct Action Plan and at little extra cost.

“Our carbon laws may not be perfect, but they include a legislated emission limit to ensure that Australia's that we can achieve the reduction targets commitments successive governments have made to the Australian and international communities,” said Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute.

Based on data released by the Clean Energy Regulator last week, The Climate Institute calculates that the current laws see Australia, by default, reducing emissions by around 15 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020. This is because, if the Government cannot get its proposed emission regulations through the Parliament, a default limit on pollution is triggered that will automatically see  at least 12 million tonne a year reduction.

The default cap was designed to ensure that the nation does not backslide on international commitments despite Canberra's climate politics.

“To 2020, this equates to cutting emissions by around 790 million tonnes, or 1.3 times total national emissions.”

“Previous independent assessments suggest the Direct Action Plan would achieve around 125 million tonnes over the same period. Direct Action, as it stands, would see the national contribution to climate change increase not decline," Jackson said.

“The default emission reductions achieved by the current carbon laws are at the lower end of commitments recommended by the independent Climate Change Authority, which said that 15 to 25 per cent reductions are more in line with Australia's national interest of avoiding a 2oC increase in global temperate."  

This analysis, which is also detailed in an accompanying media brief, is released alongside the Institute's submission to the Government's proposed Emission Reduction Fund.

"No independent analysis to date shows the Government's proposal as it stands can reduce absolute national emissions."

"Far greater scrutiny of the Government's plans is needed before we abandon an effective carbon law. Treasury or the Productively Commission should be tasked with evaluating the Government's proposal to assess whether it can achieve up to 25 per cent emission reductions required at manageable cost."

"The government should also examine the use of credible international credits and stronger domestic regulations to ensure emissions are reduced in line with avoiding dangerous climate change."

"The current carbon laws, by default, will put us on path more in line with the actions of other major economies like the USA and China. With political will the binding limit can be ratcheted to levels consistent with avoiding dangerous and escalating climate impacts. Before the effective current laws are repealed, the Government needs to demonstrate its policy can achieve as much,” said Jackson.

For more information    
Erwin Jackson | Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute | 03 9600 4039
Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299
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