Climate Change Authority

Climate Change Authority seeks comments on Australia’s emissions reduction targets

The Climate Change Authority is reviewing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals as part of a special review requested by the Minister for the Environment. The Authority will build on its Targets and Progress Review, and will publish draft recommendations on Australia’s targets for public consultation in April. (The terms of reference for the review require a draft report on targets to be published for consultation before the end of June 2015). All interested stakeholders are invited to contribute to this first stage of the review by providing comments on Australia’s emissions reduction goals.

It is understood the government plans to announce Australia’s future emission goals by mid-2015. It has established a taskforce led by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to propose targets. The Authority’s review will provide additional, independent advice to assist government decision making.

Over the course of the review (which will conclude in June 2016), the Authority will also assess whether or not Australia should have an emissions trading scheme (a draft report is required on this question by November 2015) and the actions Australia should take following the international climate negotiations in Paris in December 2015. In doing so, the Authority will consider the policies of other key countries and Australian businesses’ international competitiveness. The Authority will issue a separate issues paper on these issues and will consult with the public on these matters.

In its Targets and Progress Review, the Authority considered Australia’s existing 2020 target range and after wide consultation made recommendations on Australia’s emissions reduction goals. The Authority concluded that the pre-conditions for Australia moving some way beyond its unconditional 5 per cent emissions reduction target for 2020 were met. The Authority recommended a minimum 2020 target of 15 per cent below 2000 levels, together with another 4 per cent from Australia’s carryover under the Kyoto Protocol. The Authority also recommended a target range of 40-60 per cent reductions by 2030.

Since the Authority made these recommendations in February 2014, there have been several important developments:

  • Updates in the science of climate change—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Fifth Assessment Report, and Australia’s CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology have released new projections of climate impacts for Australia.
  • Signs of positive international action—several countries have announced post-2020 emissions reduction goals:
    • the European Union will, by 2030, reduce its domestic emissions to at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels
    • the United States will, by 2025, reduce its emissions to 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels
    • China will ensure that its emissions peak by 2030.
    • Norway will, by 2030, reduce its emissions to at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels.
  • Positive momentum in international negotiations—discussions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2014 indicate a new international agreement on climate action is likely to be made in Paris in December 2015.

The Authority will consider three key areas when reviewing Australia’s future emissions reduction goals:

  • what climate science tell us about the size of the global emissions reduction task, and the likely impacts and costs of climate change in Australia
  • what other countries are doing to reduce their emissions, and Australia’s fair contribution to the global response
  • economic factors affecting the costs and benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, taking into account the costs and opportunities of emissions reduction over time, implications for the competitiveness of Australian industries, and the implications of delaying action.

The Authority will again consider the submissions that were made to its Targets and Progress Review about Australia’s emissions reduction goals. Interested parties are invited to send any new or additional comments to by close of business on Wednesday, 11 March 2015.

Anthea Harris
Chief Executive Officer