New US Climate Target Leaves Australia 875 Million Tonnes Behind

If Australia followed the leadership of the US expected announcement of a new climate target and committed to halving emissions by 2030, it would prevent 875 million tonnes of emissions being emitted, equivalent to almost two years of Australia’s current annual emissions, according to new research by the Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program.

40 heads of state, including the world’s 17 largest greenhouse gas emitters, will gather on Earth Day 22 April, for US President Biden’s Leaders Climate Summit.

Key Findings:

  • If Australia followed the climate leadership of the US and halved emissions by 2030, it would prevent 875 million tonnes of emissions. This equates to almost two years’ worth of Australia’s current annual emissions.
  • Parallel emissions trajectories between the US and Australia will diverge with the expected announcement of the US halving their emissions by 2030, while Australia has reaffirmed its commitment to its weak existing target of 26-28% by 2030 on 2005 levels.
  • More ambitious short term targets would make a net-zero emissions target more achievable, via a smoother trajectory.
  • Increasing the ambition of Australia’s 2030 climate target would allow the transition to net-zero to be less disruptive and more likely to capture new economic and employment opportunities.

“The likely halving of emissions by the United States by 2030 is a big step up for the Biden Administration to make. Australia will be left behind if it does not commit to a similar target,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at The Australia Institute.

“The US halving emissions by 2030 would amount to a 43% reduction from 2019 levels. For Australia, halving our emissions by 2030 would be a 42% reduction on 2019 levels — the same proportional effort. Australia must take responsibility for its fair share of a shared global challenge.

“The US is setting the pace and some countries are going even further. All countries are expected to bring new climate ambition to the Summit table. The UK announced it would cut over three quarters of its emissions by 2035. Yet again, Australia is set to disappoint on the world stage.

“Australia can only benefit from greater short-term ambition, economically and for the climate. Aligning with the new US target will allow a smoother transition to net-zero emissions and increase our chances of benefiting from the economic and employment opportunities along the way.

“It is disappointing that the best this Australian Government can do is increase taxpayer funding for failed technologies like carbon capture and storage, which will mainly benefit the fossil fuel industry.”

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