Australia

Critically Insufficient4°C+
World
Commitments with this rating fall well outside the fair share range and are not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government targets were in this range, warming would exceed 4°C.
Highly insufficient< 4°C
World
Commitments with this rating fall outside the fair share range and are not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government targets were in this range, warming would reach between 3°C and 4°C.
Insufficient< 3°C
World
Commitments with this rating are in the least stringent part of their fair share range and not consistent with holding warming below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government targets were in this range, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C.
2°C Compatible< 2°C
World
Commitments with this rating are consistent with the 2009 Copenhagen 2°C goal and therefore fall within the country’s fair share range, but are not fully consistent with the Paris Agreement. If all government targets were in this range, warming could be held below, but not well below, 2°C and still be too high to be consistent with the Paris Agreement 1.5°C limit.
1.5°C Paris Agreement Compatible< 1.5°C
World
This rating indicates that a government’s efforts are in the most stringent part of its fair share range: it is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.
Role model<< 1.5°C
World
This rating indicates that a government’s efforts are more ambitious than what is considered a fair contribution: it is more than consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.

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Overview

There has been no improvement in Australia’s climate policy settings over the last year, and the 2018 CAT assessment confirms all previous assessments that its emissions are set to far exceed its Paris Agreement NDC target for 2030. We rate the NDC target itself “Insufficient“, with a level of ambition that—if followed by all other countries—would lead to global warming of over 2°C and up to 3°C. In addition, if all other countries were to follow Australia’s current policy settings, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C (“highly insufficient”).

While the Federal Government continues to maintain, most recently in its “2017 Review of Climate Change Policies”, that Australia is on track to meet the 2030 target, the Climate Action Tracker is not aware of any factual basis, published by any analyst or government agency, to support this. To the contrary, Australia’s emissions are increasing, and the latest projection published by the government at the same time as the Climate Policies Review shows that emissions are still projected to grow instead of leading to a reduction in line with the 2030 target.

While the Federal Government continues to promote coal as a solution to energy security issues, downplay renewable energy and obfuscate on its climate policies, the reality on the ground at the state level, public opinion and across the business sector in Australia, is very different. The Federal Government is proposing an electricity sector emissions reduction pathway with proportional reductions to the overall emissions reductions, contrary to independent advice and analysis that shows the electricity sector needs to and can reduce emissions faster than other sectors such as industry or agriculture.

All states and territories (except Western Australia) now have strong renewable energy targets and/or zero emissions targets in place (Climate Council, 2017) Victoria has recently introduced legislation. South Australia is widely seen as a global leader with uncertainty about the continuation of policy in South Australia with the recent change in government (The Guardian, 2018a): it has one of the highest shares of variable renewable energy, with 48% share of wind and solar total generation in 2017) (IEEFA, 2018), the world’s largest lithium ion battery, and innovative projects for renewable hydrogen and virtual power plants. Households across Australia are massively deploying small-scale solar (the 15% share of households deploying solar PV is among the highest in the world (ESAA, 2015)) and increasingly combining this with battery storage, and public opinion (Essential, 2017) is supportive of renewable energies and climate policy.

The federal government of Australia decided not to accept the recommendations of the 2017 Finkel-Review (commissioned by Federal and State governments) to adopt a Clean Energy Target. It has instead proposed an alternative instrument: a reliability obligation and an emissions reduction target on energy retailers and a small number of large electricity users (so-called National Energy Guarantee, NEG) (COAG Energy Council, 2018; Energy Security Board, 2018).

The electricity sector emissions reduction pathway suggested by the government (26–28% reduction from 2030 levels from 2005) is not consistent with the Paris Agreement, as its reductions only track the (already insufficient) 2030 reductions proposed for the entire Australian economy, whereas the electricity sector needs to—and can—reduce emissions faster (Hare et al., 2017). Other suggested elements such as the inclusion of domestic and international offsets, and the possibility of delaying emissions reductions—increase both the risk of slowing down investments in renewable energy below business as usual, and the risk of locking-in carbon intensive fossil fuel infrastructure (coal and gas) (Jotzko & Mazouz, 2017) (Energetics, 2018).

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF)—the so-called “centrepiece” of the Australian Government’s policy suite to reduce emissions—does not set Australia on a path to meeting its targets as has been reiterated in the latest review by the (Climate Change Authority, 2017). Instead of introducing new policies to address the structural change needed (CCA 2017), the government is now considering allowing international units to be used for compliance. In addition, the recently-established safeguard mechanism risks counteracting the emissions reductions the ERF is supposed to deliver and further undermining the achievement of the 2030 target (Reputex, 2018) by increasing emissions allowances for large industry facilities.

Australia ratified the Paris Agreement on 6 November 2016. Its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), includes a target of reducing GHG emissions, including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), by 26–28% below 2005 levels by 2030. This target is equivalent to a range of around 1% to 3% above 1990 levels of GHG emissions excluding LULUCF in 2030.

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