One day after Australia was questioned by the US and China on the slow pace of its greenhouse gas cuts, a new report suggests it can cut further and still keep growing its economy.
The report, from the Centre for Climate Economics at the ANU, says Australia is well placed to have all of its electricity supplied by renewable power sources.
It says the cost of renewables like solar and wind have fallen faster than expected and it is possible to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.
Michael Edwards has this report.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: The big consideration for many when it comes to cutting carbon emissions is its cost to the economy.
But according to Associate Professor Frank Jotzo, who is the director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at the Australian National University, that cost is coming down.
FRANK JOTZO: The estimates of how much it would be to cut emissions substantially over the next few decades has come down by a factor of three or four over the last five, six years.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: Professor Jotzo is one of the authors of a report that has examined the cost of replacing Australia’s carbon-based energy needs with renewable energies such as wind and solar power.
FRANK JOTZO: The pressure on emissions is not as strong as it used to be and the technology is much cheaper. The progress in getting those costs down of the old carbon technology is more rapid than we thought. So it’s a very good picture and a very good environment for going for deeper cuts.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: In particular, the price of solar power has come down dramatically over the past four years and is expected to keep falling.
And the report also examines an improvement in the costs of other renewable energies such as wind power.
FRANK JOTZO: Well the cost of wind power is also coming down and perhaps most promisingly the technological ability of some of the other advanced types of renewable energy keep getting better as well.
Among them perhaps most worthwhile to note, wave power and also geothermal power with quite some promise.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: Countries have been asked to submit a pledge for their intended cuts ahead of the Paris UN climate conference to be held in December.
The United States and European Union have already announced their post-2020 emissions targets – a reduction of 26 to 28 per cent by 2025, relative to 2005 levels, and by 2030 a 40 per cent cut, relative to 1990 levels. China says its carbon dioxide emissions will stop growing by 2030.
Environmental groups are calling on the Australian Government to be ambitious when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.
The World Wildlife Fund says this latest report is further evidence the country has much to gain and little to lose in doing so.
The WWF’s Climate Change Manager is Kellie Caught.
KELLIE CAUGHT: What this report shows is that it’s actually getting cheaper to reduce emissions and that some industries will actually do better under an ambitious emissions reduction goal.
So for example: agriculture sector would do much better food, vehicle, clothing, textiles, and even mining will continue to grow under an ambitious emissions reduction scenario.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: The report is being released ahead of the Federal Government’s decision on Australia’s post-2020 emission reduction targets, which are expected in a couple of months.
Source: ABC Radio (AM)