Australia called out on climate record

Georgie Moore
(Australian Associated Press)


The Morrison government is out of step with Australia’s trading partners on climate action with insufficient emissions reduction targets.

That’s the assessment of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who wants the federal government to at least halve its emissions this decade and commit to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Mr Ban has labelled Australia’s current target of reducing emissions between 26 and 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 as insufficient.

“Australia’s current goal … and the absence of a national zero emissions target, is out of step with its states, its trading partners, and other comparable nations,” he told the Better Futures Forum on Tuesday.

Without more action, Australia risked finding itself on the wrong side of carbon tariffs imposed by trading partners.

“Ethically, the toll of inaction on climate is incalculable,” Mr Ban said.

“Economically, failing to set ambitious, credible emissions targets in line with the rest of the world poses a huge threat to Australia’s future prosperity and international standing.”

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean warned the federal government should get with the program or get out of the way.

“Complaining it is too hard is not a solution. Saying it is up to others to come up with a plan is a cop-out,” the Liberal MP told the forum.

“The community expects our leaders to get on with it or get out of the way.”

The federal coalition is under renewed pressure to act after the UN’s latest climate report card showed a world on track to warm by 1.5C by early next decade.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to tout a “technology not taxes” approach while flagging Australia will update its emissions outlook at the UN’s climate conference in Glasgow scheduled to start on October 31.

Current projections show Australia is on track for 29 per cent emissions reduction by 2030.

Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is concerned about the cost to industry, especially in regional and rural areas, of climate policies.

Ai Group’s Innes Willox, who was on one of the summit’s panels, said research for his organisation showed Australian producers could in fact become slightly more competitive in Europe as carbon border adjustments were rolled out.

He said fairly applied carbon border adjustments lifted product prices as well as producer costs, limiting the profit impact.

As well, the EU policy focused on products and emissions where Australian producers are currently comparable to the European average.

“As a result our research finds that if anything Australian producers may become slightly more competitive in Europe in the early phases of CBAM – if they are able to get their own emissions data accepted as valid by EU authorities,” he said.

“In the longer term Australian producers’ continued competitiveness would depend on keeping up with the pace of decarbonisation in global industry and our nation’s success in building a new advantage in cheap clean energy.”

He said in the longer term Australia needed to lay out a path to net zero emissions and policies that enable industry to invest in the transition.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this month showed Australia’s land areas had warmed 1.4C since 1910.

Warming would worsen fires, floods and droughts.


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