Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt said his ministry’s internal data show that the country will overshoot its 2020 GHG emission target by even more than forecast, and claimed that Australia’s CO2 output in 2005 will represent the peak, despite levels rising under the current government.
Speaking Tuesday on ABC Radio’s AM programme, Hunt said the yet-to-be-released data will reveal that Australia is doing better than previously thought on meeting its target of cutting emissions 5% below 2000 levels by 2020.
“The latest data, which I’ve seen emerging from within the Department of Environment, is – the next quarterly statement will show that we’re on track to do even better than we had currently put in place,” Hunt said.
Hunt did not elaborate on the factors behind the reductions.
In November, Australia revised down its CO2 forecast to 2020 by 264 million tonnes, taking it from a 236 millon-tonne deficit to a 28 million-tonne surplus compared to the target.
Much of that write-down was due to macro-economic factors, but it also included over 90 million tonnes bought through the ERF and 22 million CERs purchased mostly from Europe by landfill-owners.
In meeting the 2020 target, Australia is relying heavily on 128 million Kyoto units carried over from the Kyoto Protocol’s 2008-2012 compliance period.
Asked whether Australia would cancel those as a number of European countries has done, or bring them forward to help meet the 2030 target, Hunt was non-committal.
“Let’s see what happens as we get closer to 2020,” he said.
Hunt also raised eyebrows by claiming that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions peaked in 2005.
“We – in my best judgement, advice, [and] information from the Department – reached peak emissions in 2005-6,” the minister said.
“We’re 60 million tonnes below that. And I think the course of history to come for Australia is that we will continue to be below that figure.”
The statement came as the Queensland state government said last week its emissions are likely to increase by more than 50 million tonnes per year by 2030, and much of that growth will come before 2020.
That rise is almost certainly to have not been included in the federal government’s latest forecasts.
Meanwhile, emissions in the electricity sector have been steadily climbing after the government repealed the carbon pricing mechanism in 2014, which has seen coal reclaim a bigger share of the energy mix.
Last month, analysts Reputex released a report predicting that Australia’s emissions are likely to keep rising well into the 2030s, and that there is no peak in sight.
“These are extraordinary comments by Greg Hunt given the enormous credibility gap in the government’s current policies,” Climate Institute CEO John Connor told the Guardian on Tuesday.
“We can see no reason for the government to have any confidence at all that emissions have peaked. We can see no reason for any confidence that they will decline under the government’s current policies.”
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org