Future policies will affect our carbon emissions – guidance for upcoming federal election

As per the latest IPCC report on climate change, global warming of even 1.5 degrees Celsius can lead to severe consequences, let alone global warming of 2 degrees.

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide will need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050.

These rapid and far-reaching transitions need to be achieved with the help of individuals, businesses and government.

Australia will elect its leaders in the upcoming May election. Climate change is a decisive factor for many, and so we have summarised the climate change policies of the two major parties.

Australia’s emissions

Before we compare the two parties’ policies on climate change, let’s have a look at Australia’s emission sources first. The single biggest source of our emissions is electricity consumption, followed by transport and agriculture.

Australia’s emissions sources
Figure 1: Australia’s emissions sources

Our commitments under the Paris Agreement

Australia ratified the Paris Agreement on 6 November 2016. Initially, we need to achieve a 26-28% reduction target from 2005 levels by 2030, which is our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement.

However, it is expected that over time, action is ratcheted up to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This means that we will need to implement stronger emission reduction targets every five years. The first target update is due in 2020.

Australia’s reduction targets
Figure 2: Australia’s reduction targets

Australia also has a target to achieve 20% renewable energy by 2020 (the actual target is 33,000 GWh, which will likely equate to 23.5% renewables).

Will Australia meet its Paris targets?

Since the repeal of Australia’s carbon price in 2014, our emissions have been increasing and are continuing to do so.

In the following graphic, the green line shows the emission reduction we need to achieve by 2030 – to meet the intent of the Paris Agreement.

The dark line shows Australia’s emission over time, including a projection over time to 2030. Under the current policies, Australia is not on track to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

The blue line shows our agreed Paris target of a 26-28% reduction.

Under Liberal policy, the 26-28% reduction will only be nominal, as left-over carbon credits from the previous Kyoto agreement will be used towards the target. This effectively reduces the actual carbon reduction we need to achieve in our economy under their approach.

Labor wants to increase the target to a 45% reduction, which brings us in line with the intent of the Paris Agreement.

Figure 3: Modified graphic from Investor Group on Climate Change via SMH
Figure 3: Modified graphic from Investor Group on Climate Change via SMH

Comparing key climate change policies of the major parties

Government policy is incredibly important in reaching our Paris goals. Governments need to implement policies that are here for the long run, credible and predictable. We compared the major parties policies on the following key climate change areas:

  • Carbon emissions and meeting our Paris targets
  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable energy
    • Uptake of solar PV for households and businesses, battery energy storage
  • Transport energy
  • Support for hydrogen energy
  • Support the transition to a clean energy economy

The Australian Conservation Foundation, which is Australia’s national environment organisation, scored the Liberal/National Coalition 4 out of 100 on climate change action, and Labor at 56.

Let’s look at the policies of the two parties in these areas.

pdf-icon“Comparing climate change policies of major political parties”
Download the 3-page report here

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their renewable energy strategies and timing actions appropriately. If you need help with developing emission scenarios that take into account policy settings, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

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