Bill It will set a national emission target for 2030 and define a process to escalate it over time, as well as a net zero emissions target by 2050. Climate Change Authority Will recommend future goals. These are healthy and useful elements and will serve Australia’s climate policy making well.
However, three important elements are not in the bill: a long-term roadmap to net-zero, securing the future of the climate change body, and measures to have a proper national conversation on our journey to net-zero emissions. The 43% emissions reduction target should be considered as just a starting point.
Is a 43% Emission Reduction Enough?
The bill mandates that Australia reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. Labor has taken that target to the federal election and has been unwilling to negotiate it since winning office.
Is Australia’s 43% emissions cut appropriate in the context of the Paris Agreement?
There is no single objective measure for any country that must do much to achieve a global goal. The global emissions trajectory after 2030 – as well as before it – is critical to long-term global warming.
But the evaluation is nonetheless possible, and it suggests that a boost to the goal, perhaps to a significant degree, would be appropriate.
emissions reductions In this wide range It is what is needed globally to limit the temperature rise to 2 degrees (C) compared to pre-industrial levels.
But high-income, high-carbon countries – and Australia prominent among them – are really expected to reduce carbon emissions faster than developing countries, or countries whose economies are already relatively low-carbon.
Moreover, the effort needed by Australia to achieve the 43% target is less than required by many other countries. This is because cuts In emissions from the land use and forestry sector for more than a decade, and because we have so many of them chances To reduce emissions easily.
Other great discounts This can be achieved by accelerating the transition from coal to renewable energy sources, improved energy efficiency, electricity transmission, and cleaner processes in industry and agriculture.
What will the transition to net zero emissions mean for our economy?
The Australian reduction of the current regime is certainly not compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees (C) – the global aspiration to limit climate change. And it would be skewed to say that it somehow aligns with “much less than two degrees [C’]’, the Paris Agreement long term goal.
That being said, the 43% emissions reduction target is a lot better than the previous government’s target. And enshrine it in law sends an important message. It makes zero-emissions options more investable, and signals internationally that Australia is back in action on climate change.
path to net zero
Attention will soon turn to Australia’s 2035 emissions target. The bill requires the Climate Change Authority to recommend that target and new targets every five years from then on.
If the current government does not accept this advice, it will need to explain its opposition to Parliament. This is a good process.
But Australia also needs to chart a forward course beyond the next five-year period, because the most significant investments are made over longer timescales.
This roadmap would shed light on questions such as:
What are the indicative targets for 2040 and beyond, on the path to net zero emissions?
What would the balance be between emissions of residual greenhouse gases and removal of emissions from the atmosphere, whether through forests, carbon from the earth, or technological solutions?
The Climate Change Authority may choose to conduct such an analysis, mapping possible scenarios and pathways. But such advice would have a stronger position if there was a legal requirement for it.
Climate Change Authority Insurance
The bill puts the climate change authority center stage, but does not ensure that it will always be adequately equipped to do its job.
The future government may not want to hear a strong independent voice, and can calm down by starving it. It’s happened before, in the wake of the Abbott government attempt to cancel Authority.
The Climate Change Panel needs to go through a very comprehensive and very intensive consultation process for future targeted recommendations. Not just the roundtables and submissions to a website, but a really big effort to take the analysis to groups across the Australian community.
Let us hope that these and future governments will lend their political support to an inclusive process, and fund the authority to do so.
Appropriate patriotic conversation
In any case, Australia needs a long-term national strategy to reduce emissions. It should answer questions such as:
What will the transition to net zero emissions mean for our economy, both nationally and regionally?
What needs to be done to prepare for changes, maximize gains, and deal with downsides?
Such a strategy should be more than just another modeling report with some stakeholder discussions along the way. What we need is a proper national conversation about how to tackle the transition to net zero emissions.
This would highlight all the available information and the many different perspectives, opportunities and weaknesses. It requires people to come together to really understand the issues and, where possible, to come to an agreement.
This conversation should include all major groups: companies, business associations, NGOs, unions, community leaders, youth groups, etc. The research sector will provide data and analysis, and the media will make the debate public, in many shapes and dimensions.
Governments at all levels will be involved – but they will not control the process.
Certain political instincts run counter to such truly open processes. But they are necessary – and the climate change bill does not directly cover them.
Frank Gotzo is Professor at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy and chair of energy at the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions. This article was originally Posted by Conversation