Without further policies, Australia’s emissions are set to increase substantially - around 27% above 2005 levels by 2030, according to an assessment by an international research analysis, the Climate Action Tracker (CAT).
As its contribution towards the Paris Climate Agreement, Australia has put forward an emissions reduction target of 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. The CAT has calculated this to be 16-25% below 2005 levels excluding emissions from land use, but the policies Australia currently has in place are set to see emissions rise from those levels by 27%.
Australia stands out as having not just one of the weakest of the climate targets put forward by an industrialised country, but also for having the weakest polices, with the largest gap between current policy and the INDC (intended Nationally Determined Contribution) target, according to the CAT analysis.
Of the nine industrialised countries assessed, Australia ranks eighth on the rate of reduction in per capita emissions, exceeded only by Russia, and eighth on improvement in emissions intensity for the period from 2012 to 2030, with Canada ranking worst.
The CAT also compared the projected effect of the Australian Government’s new climate policies with that of the previous government’s legislation - now largely repealed.
As a result of the changes in government policy, the cumulative abatement gap between 2013 and 2030 equivalent to roughly three years of Australia’s national emissions. The recent toning down of the Renewable Energy Target - from 41,000 GWh to 33,000 GWh by 2020 - amounts to a cumulative abatement gap of up to 141MtCO2e.
“We have undertaken a forensic analysis of Australia’s climate target, and, contrary to government assertions, the abatement task has increased considerably over the years, reflecting the negative consequences of the Australian government’s repeal and amendments of key climate policies,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics.
The central plank of the Australian Government’s climate policy – the Direct Action Plan – would see emissions increasing substantially to more than 61% above 1990 levels by 2030, or around 27% above 2005 levels.
“Australia stands out as having the most work to do of any industrialised country to achieve its already inadequate climate target,” said Niklas Höhne, of NewClimate Institute.
The Climate Action Tracker bases its assessments on industrial emissions, excluding the land use rules, because holding warming to below 2°C requires a decarbonisation of the world energy system.
Australia’s INDC, leaving aside land use rules, translates into around a -5 to +5% change from 1990 levels by 2030 (16-25% below 2005 levels), which the CAT has ranked “inadequate” and, if others were to take comparably similar action, would lead to warming of 3-4?C.
“It is clear that Australia’s currently planned policies are inconsistent with its 2030 target, Australia needs to implement substantially more policies to meet that target.” said Kornelis Blok of Ecofys.
To meet its 2030 emissions targets, Australia needs to decrease its emissions by an average annual rate of 2% until 2030; instead, with current policies, emissions are set to increase by an average rate of 1.5% a year.
“Currently implemented policy measures, do not put Australia anywhere close to a track that would decrease emissions to meets its 2030 target INDC 2030 target, which in itself is entirely inconsistent with holding warming below 2?C,” said Bill Hare.