States hand Scott Morrison free pass to lift 2030 climate target

ACT Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
ACT Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

State and territory climate action commitments have put Australia on track to far exceed the federal government's 2030 carbon pollution target, new modelling shows.

But analysis from research firm ClimateWorks Australia shows even deeper and quicker emissions cuts are needed to align Australia with the Paris temperature targets.

Liberal and Nationals ministers are thrashing out a new climate strategy ahead of the Glasgow summit, which could include a revised 2030 emissions reduction target and a commitment to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.

The ClimateWorks report, to be published on Thursday, suggests the Morrison government could afford to substantially increase its 2030 target based purely on the aspirations of state and territory governments.

The combined targets of the states and territories would cut emissions 37-42 per below 2005 levels by 2030, the analysis shows.

That is significantly higher than the government's current 2030 target of 26-28 per cent, which was set under the Abbott government.

The federal government's short-term target pales in comparison to ones set by countries such as the US, which has pledged to cut emissions by 50 per cent of 2005 levels by the end of this decade.

The Morrison government has long defended its target and argued that unlike other counties it is on track to meet and beat its Paris goals, with emissions already down 20 per cent.

ClimateWorks Systems lead Rupert Posner said the states and territories had built "important momentum" which now needed to be capitalised on in order to decarbonise the Australian economy.

The analysis shows that even more substantial emissions cuts would be needed to align Australia with the global ambition of limiting temperature to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

To meet the Paris goal, the analysis suggested Australia's emissions would need to be slashed 48-74 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Up to 80 per cent of Australia's electricity would need to come from renewable sources, while electric vehicles would need to comprise between half and three-quarters of new car sales, the modelling shows.

The report noted that climate action was much less of a "partisan" issue for the states and territories, which unlike their national government have all committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

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Tasmanian Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein on Wednesday announced plans to legislate a net zero by 2030 for his state.

"This target will be nation-leading and one of the most ambitious in the world," Mr Gutwein said.

The NSW Coalition last month committed to halving 2005-level carbon pollution by 2030.

The ACT Labor-Greens government has a target to hit net zero emissions by 2045.

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This story Morrison gets a helping hand to to lift 2030 emissions target first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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