The Climate Change Authority (CCA) has recommended aggressive cuts in emissions beyond 2020 to ensure Australia does its fair share to combat climate change.
A CCA report recommends cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2025 based on Australia’s emissions from the year 2000.
This would require significant emissions cuts beyond the current 2020 target of 5 per cent.
Australia’s emissions are less than 1.5 per cent of global emissions, but per capita Australia is the biggest emitter of all developed nations.
The CCA warned if the Government sat on the sidelines based on Australia’s global share of emissions being small, it would be “more self-serving than credible”.
“To maintain that posture in the light of increasing international actions to reduce emissions – by developed and developing, big and small countries – makes it even less credible,” CCA chair Bernie Fraser said.
“The fact is that Australia stands to be massively affected by global warming whatever its share of global emissions.”
While the CCA conceded these were “challenging” targets, its report said many other countries were promising similar levels of emissions reductions.
The CCA previously suggested cuts of between 40–60 per cent by 2030.
But what would such cuts look like in reality?
‘Economy can look pretty similar’
Not-for-profit think tank ClimateWorks and the Australian National University conducted a study to look at such a future.
“Our economy can look pretty similar to the way it does today even when we’ve transitioned to low-carbon energy sources,” chief of ClimateWorks Anna Skarbek said.
“We would still have a strong mining sector, a strong manufacturing sector, our household activities such as driving and flying would continue as they are.
“The difference would be that we would use equipment that’s powered with low-carbon energy.”
Ms Skarbek said a big change would be seen in the electricity sector.
“We would need to see a move away from fossil fuel electricity to low-carbon electricity,” she said.
“Over time that would mean we would completely remove fossil fuel electricity, particularly coal-fired power stations.
“They would be replaced with a combination of renewable energy stations plus battery storage and/or other low-carbon energy sources.”
The CCA has not modelled the cost of its recommendations.
ClimateWorks estimated that to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, the economy would continue to grow, however at a rate 0.12 per cent slower annually than if there were no climate mitigation.
Previous target recommendations ignored
The CCA previously recommended Australia increase its current 2020 target.
“We haven’t got a very good strike rate I have to say,” Mr Fraser said.
“We did recommended more ambitious targets … we talked about a [19 per cent] target for 2020 and that didn’t get much of a run.
“And we recommended that the large-scale Renewable Energy Target scheme remain at 41,000 gigawatts and that didn’t find favour either.
“So that’s two strikes – we’ve stepped up to the plate a third time and we’ll see what happens.”
The Government said it would announce its post-2020 targets by the middle of the year and that it would consider the CCA’s report as part of the process.
The 30 per cent figure is likely to serve as the upper limit of the options presented to Government to take to the UN’s climate change talks in Paris at the end of the year.
A taskforce led by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is putting together those options for the Government.
Submissions to the taskforce close on Friday.
Source: ABC News