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Why 19% plus: the background

In the first week of March 2014, Federal Labor defended the Climate Change Authority in Parliament, culminating in the defeat of the Abbott Government’s attempted abolition.

Labor established the Climate Change Authority in 2011 with the intention, as Greg Combet said in Parliament, that “climate change policy will be directed by evidence and facts, rather than fear and political opportunism”.   Senator Penny Wong re-emphasised the importance of the Climate Change Authority as a body that seeks to lift the gaze of the Parliament beyond the politics of the day and look to “taking responsibility now so that our children and grandchildren do not have to”.

It has been a great achievement to protect the Climate Change Authority so that it was able to deliver, and release on 27 February 2014, the final report of its Targets and Progress Review. In that report the Climate Change Authority:

  • in accordance with Labor’s Clean Energy legislation, adopted an emissions budget to 2050 and found that a significant proportion of that budget has already been used up
  • found that maintaining a 5% target for emissions reductions to 2020 is not a credible start toward achieving the internationally agreed goal of seeking to limit global warming to an average of 2 degrees, and leaves an improbably large task for future Australians
  • found that the conditions set in Australia’s Copenhagen commitments for moving beyond 5% to 15% reductions by 2020 had been met
  • found that adoption of unconditional emissions reductions targets of this order would be more in line with international action
  • recommended a 2020 goal of a minimum 15% below 2000 levels, augmented by a 4% permitted carryover from Australia’s Kyoto Protocol goals, to total 19%
  • recommended further adoption of a 2030 target to provide certainty for investors in long lived assets, with a target of between 40% and 60% below 2000 levels – with the range in targets provided to accommodate developments in the intervening period.

The Climate Change Authority report sets out in some detail that emissions reductions of this order or greater are achievable and affordable through domestic emissions reductions and through purchase of international emissions reductions credits.

As noted by the Climate Change Authority, the existing Clean Energy legislation provides a framework for the action required. 

LEAN believes that prompt commitment to bold but responsible action to adopt and pursue increased emissions reduction targets as recommended by the Climate Change Authority:

  • is required by the interests of the Australian nation;
  • does justice to Labor’s efforts and achievements in defending the Clean Energy legislation including the Climate Change Authority;
  • and exposes the “fig leaf” (as Malcolm Turnbull termed it) of the Coalition’s “Direct Action” policy.

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