9 February 2011 – Australia is way off course on its hopes to cut greenhouse gas emissions, making a carbon price and other measures essential, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet said on Wednesday, in response to a new report.
Mr Combet said that by 2020 emissions were projected to be 24 per cent above 2000 levels. But the government was committed to cutting carbon pollution by at least 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
Mr Combet was responding to the report, Australia’s Emissions Projections, which says that achieving the targets “are equivalent to a reduction in every Australian’s carbon footprint of nearly one third to one half.”
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“The Australian Government believes the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is the cheapest and most effective way of tackling climate change and is committed to the bipartisan emissions reductions targets,” the report said.
“However, due to a lack of bipartisan support on the CPRS, combined with slow progress on reaching a credible global agreement to limit carbon emissions, the government has delayed the introduction of the CPRS.
“In the short term the Government will boost existing investments in clean and renewable energy and support greater energy efficiency measures in order to bring down greenhouse gas emissions.”
Mr Combet “Without a carbon price underpinning long term investments in renewable energy, low emissions gas generation and energy efficiency, the report anticipates that new coal fired generators will continue to be built and there is a risk of falling short of the Government’s target of generating 20 per cent of our energy from renewable sources in 2020.
“While there is a warning in this report, it is important to remember that it is not too late for us to act,” Mr Combet said.
“We are tracking to be two per cent below our Kyoto target and a carbon price can work with appropriately targeted energy efficiency and renewable energy policies to drive the necessary transformation of our economy.”
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Australian Greens deputy leader Senator Christine Milne said the results were not surprising given the “government-endorsed massive expansion in fossil fuel extraction around the country is leading to a similarly massive blow-out in our greenhouse pollution.
“At some point the government will have to confront the reality that its energy policy and climate policy are on a collision course, with ever-growing investment in coal, gas and coal-seam gas undermining any moves to turn our economy around.
“We have a huge opportunity to create jobs, investment and clean air if we shift our investment into baseload solar and other renewables, as well as energy efficiency and clean transport.
“As Professor Garnaut so eloquently noted yesterday, it is the political power of the fossil fuel industries that is holding back transformative climate action and today’s numbers demonstrate that power in black and white.
“I am very pleased to see Minister Combet acknowledging today that a carbon price needs to work hand in glove with well-designed energy efficiency and renewable energy policies. Those industry policies are vital if we are to turn Australia around, move away from fossil fuels and embrace what Professor Garnaut highlights as the even greater benefits of renewable energy.”
Mr Combet said that Australia needed to cut around 160 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2020, ” equal to reducing emissions from generating electricity by 75 per cent.
“This 160 million is on top of the 109 million tonnes of savings provided by existing measures. By 2030 we are projected to be 44 per cent above 2000 levels.”