Climate lobby urges govt to look past 2020 carbon target

Australia should reduce net carbon emissions by 40 per cent of 2020 levels by 2025 and decarbonise the economy between 2040 and 2050, a climate body report says.

The report by the Climate Institute pressures the Federal Government to start thinking beyond the 2020 date that is has focussed on in its Direct Action Policy.

“By just focusing on 2020 emission and renewable energy goals, the recent political debate has ignored growing scientific, investment, and international realities. This short-term focus is simply a high risk approach to the significant challenges of decarbonising our economy and helping avoid dangerous impacts for Australia,” said Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute.

“Australian politics is fixated on 2020 but the world is now increasingly looking beyond 2020.”

In Warsaw last year, Australia and other countries agreed to advance their initial post-2020 targets in early 2015. Europe recently agreed its initial post-2020 offer of at least 40 per cent cuts in emissions by 2030. The US and China have said they will advance their targets soon.

“It is time for the Australian government to put forth an independent, transparent domestic process to define our post-2020 targets. This process should be announced in the lead up to the Lima climate talks,” said Jackson.

Australia – along with over 190 countries – has agreed to work collectively to avoid 2ºC of warming. According to the Climate Council, this will require a deeper carbon cuts than can be achieved by the current policy.

A separate report by the Climate Council, ‘Lagging Behind: Australia and the Global Response to Climate Change’, says that in the last five years most countries around the world have accelerated action on climate change, but Australia has "moved from a leader to laggard" on the issue.

According the report, as a result of uncertainty surrounding the Renewable Energy Target (RET), new investment into renewable energy projects has dropped by 70 per cent.

"We've had a loss of 70 per cent of new investment in renewable energy in this country, and when you compare that with the US and China, which are powering ahead – China particularly at record levels – it's a pretty sorry state of affairs," the Climate Council's Professor Tim Flannery said.