Australia should aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2025 and 40-60% by 2030, the nation’s Climate Change Authority said Wednesday.
The recommendations were released to feed into the government’s ongoing process of setting a future climate target for the Paris UN talks later this year.
“In the Authority’s view, these targets are consistent with climate science, with what comparable countries are doing, and with Australia’s best interests,” the report said.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt declined to confirm or deny whether the government was likely to adopt the proposal.
“On their own numbers – what the CCA is proposing is not just the largest reduction in emissions intensity in the world – but a third more onerous than any other country,” he said, according to the Guardian.
The targets would represent a significant step up from the government’s current ambition, which is to reduce emissions 5% below 2005 levels by 2020 – a target that has failed to impress counterparties in UN negotiations.
The report said a 30% target by 2025 would “require relatively strong reductions in total emissions, emissions per person and emissions intensity,” but that Australia’s economy would still remain one of the world’s most carbon-intensive in the developed world.
The Climate Change Authority maintained a previous recommendation that Australia should lift its 2020 target to 19%, but this has been ignored by the government.
Observers welcomed the recommendations, though many said the Authority did not go far enough.
“While we support the CCA’s analysis that Australia can and should do more to cut carbon pollution, the research tells us we can be more ambitious and create a more sustainable future for Australians,” said Kellie Caught, WWF Australia’s national manager for climate change.
“WWF is recommending the Australian Government increase the 2020 target from 5% to at least 25% cut on 2000 levels, and a 2025 target of at least 40% cut on 2000 levels,” she said, referring to a report released by WWF and Australia National University on Tuesday, which argued Australia could get 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by mid-century.
But lobby group the Mineral Council of Australia said the proposed targets would be too tough.
“A 40 per cent cut in emissions is equivalent to closing down Australia’s electricity, transport and agriculture sectors. It is neither feasible nor economically responsible,” it said in a statement.
The Climate Change Authority report was the first of three planned sets of recommendations from the independent advisory body. Its future research will consider policies to cut emissions, with a special focus on emissions trading.
Australia is expected to announce a carbon target for 2025 or 2030 around mid-year.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org