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The Coalition government has announced its greenhouse emissions reduction target of a minimum 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, with the possibility of a 28 per cent target as the economic costs become clearer.

This target is not consistent with the minimum target to meet the (dangerous) goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees on pre-industrial levels (a position shared by New Zealand, Japan, and Canada). Many other countries have made much larger contributions, in some cases almost DOUBLE Australia’s commitment:
USA – 41% below 2005 emissions by 2030
Japan – 25%
Canada – 30%
EU – 34%
UK – 48%
Germany – 46%

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop claimed that Australia will halve emissions per person over the next fifteen years. “That is more than any other major economy or any other comparable country.”

Actually China is planning to achieve something similar by 2020:
reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% from the 2005 level and to increase the share of non
fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to about 15%

Because we have failed to move with the rest of the world into renewables instead increasing our emissions since Kyoto, Australia will still have higher emissions per person and emissions intensity than the countries listed above (see chart below)

Our target, which translates into a 19 per cent cut below 2000 levels by 2030, is what the independent Climate Change Authority says Australia should be trying to achieve within 5 years, rather than 15, and it is less than half the 40-60 per cent reductions on 2000 levels for 2030 recommended by the CCA.

An appropriate timeframe, one which will ensure Australia shares the economic advantage of the global shift to a clean economy and a reduction in the health costs of pollution and climate change as well as giving the planet a chance of avoiding the most serious climate change catastrophes are:
40-60% reduction on 2000 levels by 2025
60-80% reduction on 2000 levels by 2030
Net zero by 2050 at the very latest.

A number of studies have shown that Australia can achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and live within its recommended carbon budget, using technologies that exist today, while maintaining economic prosperity. Major technological transitions and many activities are needed in some industries, but no fundamental change to Australia’s economy is required. The technologies required for decarbonisation are currently available or under development.

For information and comparison, the major parties have these targets:
Liberal Party, National Party: 5% by 2020; 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030
ALP: 5-25% by 2020; 50% of energy from renewables by 2030 but the recent National Conference baulked at announcing an overall emission reduction target
Greens: 40-50% on 2000 levels by 2025; 60-80% by 2030; and net-zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2040.

For a fuller discussioncca-effort