Government climate targets fail key tests Media Release

Aug 11, 2015 - 10:30am

Pollution reduction targets released by the government fail key climate and competitiveness tests, said The Climate Institute today.

“The initial target offer ahead of the Paris climate negotiations in December is a core test of the government's climate and economic credibility,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. “This target fails tests both of scientific credibility and economic responsibility in a world increasingly focused on modernising and cleaning up energy as well as economic systems.”

“This target is bad for the climate and bad for our international competitiveness.”

The government today announced an initial commitment to aim to reduce emissions by 26 per cent, and possibly 28 per cent, on 2005 levels by 2030. Final targets will need to be submitted after the Paris negotiations when the government ratifies the new agreement.

Connor said: “We welcome that both sides of politics say they are committed to the internationally agreed goal of avoiding a 2°C increase in global temperature.

“It is clear that avoiding the 2°C limit is in Australia’s interest. CSIRO and others highlight significant impacts with even the current one degree of global warming. Climate changes associated with warming above 2°C would lead to many more unmanageable bushfires, storms and heatwaves, irreversibly damaged coral reefs, and the ability of our farmers to feed the nation stretched to its limits.”

“The government can’t pretend that this target would see us doing our bit in limiting warming to less than 2°C. The maximum amount of pollution Australia can emit to 2050 to do its part in avoiding 2°C is around 8-9 billion tonnes. The proposed target would see this limit breached in just 14 years’ time, by 2029.”

“If other countries took the same approach as the government announced today, the world would warm by 3-4°C.”

“The government’s weak target is also bad for the economy. As many other nations continue to step up actions to limit emissions and modernise their economies through clean energy and other investments, this target implies that Australia will be the most pollution intensive developed economy by 2030.”

“This target also means we would still be the highest per capita polluter among developed economies in 2030.”

“If the government, and indeed the opposition, wants to join the emerging mainstream they need to have much stronger final post-2020 targets, and should have a clear pathway to net zero carbon economy before 2050.”

“The Climate Institute urges the government to strengthen its final target to one that is scientifically robust and economically responsible.

“Without a pathway and plan for a less than 2°C net zero emissions economy neither the government nor the opposition will have a credible climate or competitiveness plan for Australia’s future,” Connor said.

For more information
Susan Cavanagh | Media Manager, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299

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