Advance Australia’s ‘unfair’ climate targets

New report shows Australia’s Paris target of 26 percent is nowhere near a fair share of the world’s emission reduction task. Australia will come under increasing pressure to increase its target as UN negotiations escalate. 

The report Advance Australia’s Fair Share, by The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program, provides a first of its kind assessment of the fairness of Australia’s emissions targets based on population, cost-sharing and hybrid approaches common in the scientific literature. In each assessment, Australia’s emissions reduction target was found to be grossly inadequate. 

“Whether you assess the fairness of a country’s emissions reduction target by population, economic cost, or a combination, our analysis shows Australia’s reduction target is unambitious, unfair and irresponsible,” said Richie Merzian, Director of The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program. 

“Australia continues to profit from high emissions rather than take up its fair share of reductions. We are unfairly shirking our global responsibilities onto others. 

“As we approach the next climate conference, what UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa is calling ‘Paris 2.0’, Australia  will come under pressure from our friends and neighbours to lift our game and chip in our equitable share. 

“It is in Australia’s best interest to have targets that do our fair share. Inadequate targets that need continual revision brings uncertainty to business. 

“The reduction target uncertainty that has plagued the energy sector will spread and be experienced by all sectors unless we get this right.” 

Key Findings 

  • The whole world can emit a further 1,040,000 million tonnes of CO2 to have mid-probability of meeting the Paris goals. Based on population, Australia’s share would be 3,392 million tonnes

  • Australia emits over 500 million tonnes per year, and rising. On that basis Australia’s share would run out in around six years.
  • Factoring in Australia’s high per capita emissions, Australia’s reduction target should be 45 to 63 per cent by 2030.
  • On a global cost-sharing approach, achieving the Paris Agreement goal should see global consumption drop by 1.7 percent whereas Australia’s 26 per cent target would only reduce consumption by only 0.6 per cent and even a 45 per cent target (proposed by the ALP) would result in a 0.9 percent reduction in consumption. 

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