Not close enough
The Government’s emissions projections, as at December 2019, estimated that without carry-over credits, Australia’s 2030 emission levels will be 16 per cent below 2005 levels. This projection takes into account policies including the Emissions Reduction Fund, Climate Solutions Package, Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, and energy performance, refrigeration and air conditioning measures. It does not take into account the impacts of potential future policies and measures, particularly the electric vehicle strategy.
Stronger technology uptake would move Australia closer to the 26-28 per cent target but still undershoot it, according to the Government’s sensitivity analysis of the current projections.
Despite this, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said, with regard to the use of the carry-over credits, that Australia might be “in the position where we don’t need them”.
The Paris Agreement also prescribes that countries communicate their targets every five years and that each successive target should “represent a progression beyond the previous one and reflect the highest possible ambition”. As the impacts of climate change from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions materialise, pressure is building, in Australia and globally, to reduce emissions more quickly.
When asked whether the Government would consider changing its 2030 target, Prime Minister Morrison has said, “we want to reduce our emissions and do the best job we possibly can and get better and better and better at it”. In the absence of new technology take-up over and above what is already factored into the projections, further policy action may need to be taken.
As the Government has said it will not put the economy at risk to cut emissions, ANZ Research assumes the intent would be to implement policies that limit the direct impact on economic output. As total emissions are the product of the level of output and emissions intensity, this implies deeper cuts to intensity would be required.
Although overall emissions intensity has fallen by 40.2 per cent since 2004-05, progress has slowed in recent years.
Emissions intensity fell by 2.5 per cent year-on-year on average in the five years to 2018-19; half the average 5.2 per cent year-on-year fall of the previous five years (including LULUCF). Ex-LULUCF, emissions intensity fell 1.5 per cent year-on-year, on average, in the past five years, compared with 3.2 per cent year-on-year over the previous five years.