Solar power drives larger reductions in carbon emissions by 2030 – The Australian Financial Review
Updated projections released by the government under its revised climate plan, committing to net zero emissions by 2050, showed Australia would indeed “meet and beat” the 26 to 28 per cent target set by former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott in 2015.
Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the improved climate projection was driven by a number of factors including the increased uptake of solar, improved business and household energy efficiency and “land use changes”.
“We are world leaders in solar. One in four houses, no other country in the world is at that level. We have seen extraordinary investments, world-beating investments in renewables increasingly dominated by solar in the last couple of years and that has played an important role,” Mr Taylor said.
“Energy efficiency has played an important role, the role of business and households in driving energy efficiency using new and emerging technologies.
“The third piece is changes in land use and of course the role that farmers have played in that has made a very significant contribution as well.”
Emissions from the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector have fallen by 114 million tonnes of CO₂ since 2005, mostly due to state government laws making it harder for farmers to cut down trees on their properties.
Mr Taylor said Australia’s carbon emissions had fallen by 20 per cent since 2005 – faster than any other major commodity exporting country in the world. However, the predicted 35 per cent fall by 2030 under a “Technology Investment Roadmap-aligned scenario” won’t be formalised.
Countries that attend COP26 are not formally required to bring stronger emission reduction targets, but many have already beefed up their commitments. This includes the United States (50 to 52 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025), the United Kingdom (78 per cent below 1990 levels by 2035) and the European Union (55 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030).
Much of the action in Glasgow is about 2030, not 2050. Alex Ellinghausen
The only requirement at COP meetings is that countries are not allowed to go backwards or weaken their emission reduction commitments.
The predicted 35 per cent fall in emissions reduction by 2030 is still short of the “ambitious and pragmatic” target of 46 to 50 per cent called for by the Business Council of Australia.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the updated 2030 emissions projections should be a “spur to development of more ambitious mid-term emissions goals, not a substitute for them”.
“There is more to be done here, including both with respect to upgrading the 2030 target and the follow-on target that must be developed in the next couple of years,” he said.
Carbon Market Institute chief executive John Connor said the net zero commitment by 2050 was “minimum entry ticket to the climate policy credibility”, and that a formal stronger 2030 target was needed.
“Australia should be supporting 2030 emission reductions of at least 50 per cent and make them part of the currency of international climate and trade negotiations, our nationally determined contributions [NDCs] under the UNFCCC Paris Agreement,” Mr Connor said.
“The failure to convert strengthened emission reduction projections of up to 35 per cent from 2005 levels resulting from stronger business and government actions into an even more ambitious NDC is a major missed opportunity.”
Greens leader Adam Bandt said the Glasgow summit was meant to be about increased 2030 targets, but the Prime Minister would simply keep Mr Abbott’s almost decade-old target and claim he was “meeting and beating” it.
“Weak 2030 targets are a death sentence. Morrison’s plan is dangerous and will cost our kids their future,” he said.