Australia is set to miss its Paris 2030 climate target, with emissions actually rising in the past four years, according to new federal government data.
The Abbott Government pledged to slash emissions by at least 26 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 – a move solidified in 2016, when Malcolm Turnbull put pen to paper and ratified the Paris Agreement.
Since then, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia will meet that target “in a canter”.
But the latest carbon emissions projections, released by the Department of Environment and Energy, predict Australia will only reduce its carbon emissions by 7 per cent by 2030 – well short of the target.
Despite the figures, Environment Minister Melissa Price insisted the Government would meet the Paris commitment.
“We’re very comfortable where we sit now and very comfortable we’re going to meet that 2030 target,” she said.
“In terms of the electricity sector, we’re overachieving with respect to bringing emissions down in that sector.
“I’m really proud of the policies we’ve got.”
Minister ‘misleading’: climate expert
Professor Frank Jotzo, an expert in climate change policy at the Australian National University, said Ms Price’s insistence Australia would meet its Paris commitments was “misleading”.
Australia is among a number of countries currently not on track to meet their unconditional Paris carbon emissions reduction targets by 2030, a UN report has warned.
“There’s no basis in the information provided in the report today to suggest Australia is on track to meet the 2030 emissions target, none whatsoever,” he said.
“On the basis of these projections, Australia would miss the Paris Agreement target by a very long margin, and that is before taking into account the international community would expect Australia to take on a stronger emissions reduction target.”
Professor Jotzo said while the figures showed electricity emissions were projected to fall, emissions in other sectors — like transport and so-called “fugitive” emissions (releases of gases from industry operations) were rising.
Overall emissions have steadily increased since 2014.
“It’s going in the wrong direction, it could go in the right direction, but it would require effective policy,” Professor Jotzo said.
“When we hear statements by government ministers that say we are on track, when clearly we are not, we can really only see that in political terms.
“However, it is not an honest reflection of what is in fact happening.
“One would really wish for a more honest appraisal of where the nation is at, and what will be needed in order to get that transition that we need underway, and in order to truly walk towards achieving those Paris emissions targets.”
Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus seized on the figures, accusing the Government of evading the truth.
“What we need is a government other than this dysfunctional chaotic Government, that is prepared to put in place a climate policy,” he said.
“The Government’s own figures show emissions are rising and what Australia needs is a government prepared to put in place actual action on climate change.”