International report slams Australian emissions target as 'insufficient'

The 2017 assessment of Australia's climate policy settings by the independent international research group, Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has found there has been no improvement in Australia's rating over the last year, and confirms that Australia's emissions are set to far exceed its Paris Agreement Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for 2030.

CAT has produced independent annual scientific reports of nations' climate action since 2009 with input from three international research organisations. The reports track progress towards the globally agreed aim of holding warming well below 2°C, and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

The 2017 report on Australia rates the NDC target itself as 'insufficient', with a level of ambition that—if followed by all other countries—would lead to global warming of over 2°C and up to 3°C. In addition, if all other countries were to follow Australia’s current policy settings, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C.

Australia's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) includes a target of reducing GHG emissions, including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), by 26–28% below 2005 levels by 2030. This target is equivalent to a range of around 9% below to 3% above 1990 levels of GHG emissions excluding LULUCF in 2030.

The CAT report challenges the assertions of the Australian Government about its climate performance.

“While the Federal Government continues to maintain that 'Australia's effective climate change policies are working,'(Frydenberg, 2016) the Climate Action Tracker is not aware of any factual basis, published by any analyst or government agency, to support this.”

“Whilst the Federal Government continues to promote coal as a solution to energy security issues, downplay renewable energy and obfuscate on its climate policies, the reality on the ground at the state level, public opinion and across the business sector in Australia, is very different.

“South Australia is progressing towards its 50% renewable by 2025 target and has a net zero emissions by 2050 goal, as do Victoria and New South Wales, and Queensland has a 50% renewable target for 2030.

“The massive penetration of small-scale solar on households in Australia, as well as the increasing uptake of battery storage, combined with increasing efficiency of appliances is set to stabilise electricity demand from the national grid for the next 20 years, irrespective of further climate policies (AEMO, 2016).

“These facts—and numerous scientific studies—show that a change in policy settings in Australia could rapidly turn around present emission trends and set the country on a path towards zero emissions by 2050, with substantial economic and energy-security benefits, and such policies would attract widespread public support.”

The assessment concluded that the Finkel Review missed the opportunity to propose an energy policy that would put Australia on track to meet its goals and obligations under the Paris Agreement.

“The minimum electricity sector emissions reduction pathway suggested in the Finkel Report (26–28% reduction from 2030 levels from 2005) is not consistent with other scientific assessments, as its reductions only track the (already insufficient) 2030 reductions proposed for the entire Australian economy.”

"Considering economy-wide emissions, under current policy settings, Australia’s emissions excluding LULUCF are set to increase substantially to 8–16% above 2005 levels by 2030, equivalent to an increase of 35–46% above 1990 levels, confirming earlier assessments by the CAT - and many other analysts - that Australia’s current policies will fall well short of meeting its proposed Paris Agreement target of an emissions reduction of (including LULUCF) 26–28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

"Without accelerating climate action and additional policies, Australia will miss its 2030 target by a large margin. The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF)—the so-called 'centrepiece' of the Australian Government’s policy suite to reduce emissions—does not set Australia on a path to meeting its targets."

More information about Climate Action Tracker is at

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