As time runs out Australia’s emissions are going in the wrong direction

by Polly Hemming


Australian’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising and with each month the path ahead becomes harder and more costly.

This week’s Intergenerational Report made it quite clear that the cost of climate change on Australia’s economy would be massive and unprecedented. Little wonder that the Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, told the National Press Club that “Dealing with climate change is a global environmental and economic imperative”, and that Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has been regularly counting down the months until we reach 2030 and the target deadline for cutting emissions by 43% below 2005 levels.

And while this target remains well below what is needed according to all scientific research, the latest greenhouse gas emissions data released today shows that Australia is not only a long way from reaching the target, we are not even on the right path.

In the 12 months to June Australia released an estimated 530.7Mt CO2 – up from 526.6Mt CO2 in the 12 months to June 2022.

While we cannot blame the government for all of the rise in emissions since they took office last year, that emissions are rising at all just highlights how desperate the situation now is and that the time for blaming others for inaction is long past.

In June last year, in order to achieve a 43% cut in emissions by 2030 we would need to reduce annual emissions by 7.3Mt CO2 each quarter, now that has risen to need to cut 8.6Mt CO2. This represents are 17.8% increase in the quarterly abatement task. As each month passes the more drastic the cuts will need to be.

It is also worth noting that since 2005 we have only reduced actual emissions by 1.4%. While the government and others might suggest we have reduced emissions by 25% that is only if you include the drop in emissions from land use – in essence claiming credit for no longer logging forests at the same speed that was done 18 years ago.

The Government’s Intergenerational Report made the cost of inaction clear and today’s figures make it starkly obvious that not only are we not reducing our emissions at the speed needed; we are not reducing them at all.

Failure to act with haste and urgency befitting the problem will only place a greater burden on the nation in future years.

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