Laura Tingle is wonderful when she loses patience. She reckons Abbott’s climate policy is “the dodgiest bit of public policy in recent years, possibly since the Coalition’s now infamous $11 billion hole in its 2010 election policy costings.”
She describes the policy a “rubbish” and says that the real target is the Labor Party. Abbott wants to argue that Labor would wreck the economy with higher electricity charges.
The target chosen for 2030 is a reduction of 26%, or perhaps up to 28%, on 2005 emissions. Using 2000 as the base year the reduction is only 19%, compared to the 40 to 60% recommended by the Climate Change Authority. On the face of it, the target is just ahead of Japan, which is struggling with a dodgy fleet of nuclear power stations, and just behind Canada and New zealand. Sophie Vorrath and Giles Parkinson cut the figures various ways. Abbott points to our population growth. The bottom line, though, is that we head the pack in emissions per capita. In 2030 will still win the per capita prize and have the most carbon intensive economy in the OECD.
This graph, from the Climate Institute via The Guardian, makes the point:
The US has promised cuts of between 26% and 28% by 2025, but if you take that trend forward it becomes about 41% by 2030.
Ben Eltham at New Matilda has published this graphic from the briefing which purports to show how the cuts will be achieved:
It’s mainly words, the only active policy in it is the Emissions Reduction Fund, where minister Greg Hunt told us on TV they were going to spend $200 million a year – a pathetically small amount. Laura Tingle says most of the emissions cuts are to come from policies unspecified and undeveloped:
- The majority of the emissions reduction, according to the government, comes from a safeguard mechanism (so far unspecified), a “national energy productivity plan” for energy efficiency (unknown) and vehicle efficiency (unknown) and “technology improvements and others sources of abatement”.
- The government is recklessly trading policy certainty for the business community for a cheap political shot at Labor.
It’s almost a hands off policy. No wonder Tony Abbott says his Government’s emissions reduction strategies will protect, not harm, the coal industry.
The Climate Change Authority will report by 30 June 2016 on the full suite of actions Australia should take to meet its commitments arising out of the Paris Conference. In this report the Authority will “present its analysis and recommendations on how Australia’s actual post-2020 targets might be most appropriately and cost-effectively implemented.”
That should hit the deck just before the next election.
Those who understand the science suggest that if everyone did what Australia intends to do we’d be in for 3 to 4 degrees of warming this century.
Labor has promised 50% renewable energy by 2030, but will not adopt a target for emissions reduction unless it can see the Government’s modelling. I do believe I heard that the Government will not release its modelling until 2017.
Meanwhile The Daily Telegraph had a front page spread claiming that Labor’s policies will cost the economy $600 billion. Hunt was waving it about in parliament. The story claims to have unearthed Treasury analysis from 2013 of the cost implications of the Climate Change Authority’s 40-60% target.
Abbott and company have a ready-made scare campaign drop into their lap. It talks of a carbon price of $209 per tonne and electricity increases of 78%. On the surface it looks loopy, but Labor would do well not to let it run.
This graph from EDGAR, via the BBC, puts our emissions into perspective:
Obviously what happens in China, the US, the EU and India will have a large impact on whether the world fries. Nevertheless there are 192 countries meeting in Paris, what everyone does counts. We are one of the leading emitters and of them the highest per capita. The Abbott Government’s approach is extraordinarily selfish and basically an “up yours” in terms of leadership. We will provide other laggard states with comfort and cover. We’ve done the bare minimum to avoid being a climate pariah at the Paris summit in December.