Australia on Saturday released an issues paper on its post-2020 GHG target which it will submit to the UN mid-year, saying the final target will take into account the nation’s economic structure and high dependency on fossil fuels.
The public consultation round is the first step of a process in which a task force led from the prime minister’s office will determine Australia’s climate commitment for 2025 or 2030.
“We are determined to reduce emissions – but without a carbon tax and without destroying jobs,” said a statement from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office.
The issues paper did not propose any potential targets, but stressed the difference of its economy compared to other developed countries, with Australia experiencing faster economic and population growth and a share of coal in primary energy consumption three times as high.
It said the Emissions Reduction Fund would continue to be Australia’s main climate policy tool, but that there could be supplementary policies available which “could include fuel efficiency standards for light and heavy vehicles, building and appliance energy efficiency standards and measures to reduce synthetic greenhouse gas emissions”.
Unlike the climate plans of most developed countries the Australian paper did not envision or make a reference to a deep decarbonisation of the economy:
For the foreseeable future, Australia will continue to be a major supplier of crucial energy and raw materials to the rest of the world, especially Asian countries. At present, around 80 per cent of the world’s primary energy needs are met through carbon-based fuels. By 2040, it is estimated that 74 per cent will still be met by carbon-based sources because of growing demand in emerging economies.
That riled some observers, who said the government’s paper lacked ambition.
“This is based on the International Energy Agency (IEA) ‘New Policies’ scenario which assumes only existing policies and proposals are implemented. This assumes that no countries will take any further action for the next 25 years,” said think-tank The Climate Institute in a statement.
“What emissions reductions Australia decides to target in 2025 or 2030 will make crystal clear whether we intend helping achieve the internationally agreed goal of avoiding two degrees warming or not,’ John Connor, the institute’s CEO, said.
“This Issues Paper reveals a government risking failure of this key test of climate credibility,” he said.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org