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Australia must get real about reducing emissions

From the get-go, Australia has used every trick in the book to avoid any meaningful contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Under Kyoto, each nation was assigned a target – measured against the nation’s specific baseline of emissions produced in 1990. Our negotiators argued that our dependence on fossil fuels and energy-intensive exports meant cutting emissions would be difficult and negotiated that, instead of reducing our emissions, we would limit the increase to 8% above 1990 levels by 2012.

We also demanded the inclusion of what has come to be known as ‘the Australia clause’ which allows Annex I parties to include greenhouse gas emissions from land use change in 1990-base year calculations. This is important for Australia because, in 1990, national forestry and land clearing activities represented net sources of emissions. Reducing these activities from what they were in 1990 therefore counts as an emission reduction, without actually reducing direct emissions.

Forest clearing in Australia plummeted after 1990, when Queensland enacted tough new land clearing laws. So including deforestation emissions in Australia’s baseline meant we would never really struggle to meet – or as it turned out, beat – our targets. In fact, the rule effectively rewarded Australia for its mass deforestation in 1990.

The latest quarterly report shows that, if we exclude these dubious LULUCF reductions, we have actually increased emissions by over 15% since 1990.

As it turned out, we overshot our 2012 ambition, increasing our emissions by 3% rather than 8%. Any surplus emissions reduction in the first Kyoto period could be carried over to the second period, from 2013 to 2020, though several countries voluntarily cancelled their surplus credits. We did not.

The 2012 Doha Amendment, where the baseline year is 1990, set Australia’s 2020 target as a 0.5% reduction in emissions. The Abbott government redefined this to a 5% reduction on 2000 levels including the carry-over from the earlier period.

Changing the base year is another sneaky trick from the government to look like we are doing something when we are not.

Our commitment to the Paris agreement was for our 2030 emissions to be 26-28% below 2005 levels. To illustrate the difference that the change of base year to 2005 makes, the latest report states that Australia’s annual emissions for the year to September 2021 are estimated to be 10.1% below emissions in the year to September 2000 and 19.821% below emissions in the year to September 2005. Hey presto.

Nothing epitomises the Coalition’s fruitless time in government more than the spin they have put on emissions reduction.

Fiddle the books, throw in some slogans, hold up a brochure, claim credit for what others are doing, cast doubt on the experts, bleat about how disastrous it would be to actually do anything – all whilst vehemently saying that you won’t be lectured to by unelected faceless bureaucrats as you do the bidding of fossil fuel lobbyists and donors.

The people have elected a parliament with a clear mandate to take urgent action on climate change. The government must heed our voices and increase their ambition.

It’s time to get real.

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11 comments

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  1. Geoff Andrews

    Two Juice Media sites that explain our late Government’s attitude to climate change.

    Warning: Language will probably offend most refined people but AIMN readers will be OK.

  2. Albos Elbow

    Its time to stop the talking and put words into action.
    The past decade of COAL-NP corruption and inaction has set Australia and the planet back 30 years.

    Where we Australians now stand under COAL-NP, is the climate change laughing stock of the universe and per capita, the world’s biggest carbon polluter and the world’s biggest exporter of poisonous, carcinogenic coal, oil and gas.

  3. New England Cocky

    Tomorrow has the potential to be the second really great day for Australian voters. Both COALiiton parties have leadership elections with the LIarbrals set to select Duddo Voldemort and Barnyard Beetrooter Joke to be tossed over for Muck McCormack (the past) or Little-to-be proud of (the present), or Darren Chester (the future that the Nazional$ will deny).

    So, there is some hope that there will be an early bye-election in New England because poor liddle dummiekins will not be able to survive on his $220,000 Parliamentary salary package plus too many perks because as a rampant adulterer, alcoholic and misogynist his expenses have risen above his ability.

    We live in hope …..

  4. pierre wilkinson

    the entire period of the COALition’s maladministration was marked by their unfailing ability to get away with fudging the figures on all sorts of things, with the complicit connivance of the MSM…
    we now have to hope that some semblance of objectivity will return to the ABC and that the MSM will review the failure of their unmitigated bias in the election phase and before – apart from Sky and the Murdoch rags which will undoubtedly double down on their
    unhinged vitriol and fear mongering

  5. wam

    Sadly, kaye, I mix with dummos because I don’t know anyone who can understand your post neither do I know anyone who gives a rat’s arse about doha nor kyoto.
    Labor needs to work WITH the independents and the pacific nations and ON the lib moderates to get greenhouse gas emissions rapidly on the way down and renewable developments on the way up.
    They need to work on the 3 morning shows for publicity on emissions and global melts.
    ps The rumour is Wilkie for speaker? Beauty, little will get past him.
    pps Can’t get the distribution of preferences to prove it but, from many scrutineering experiences, if, from first preferences, labor had been number 3 on the ballot they would have won brisbane.
    Wonder who was 3?

  6. Kaye Lee

    Let me make it very simple for you.

    Australia has to stop lying about its emissions reductions, stop demanding special treatment and making excuses, and urgently start taking REAL action, not book-fiddling.

    Let me make it very simple for Labor.

    Co-operate with the Greens and they have a majority in both houses.

    Though I am sure you still won’t give a rat’s arse and will still fixate on morning shows and scrutineering.

    PS the election result would indicate most people already know about “emissions and global melts” without “publicity” by Karl & co.

  7. Albos Elbow

    Fossil fuels are holding the world to ransom and fossil fuel billionaires greed is contributing to rising prices, rising inflation and higher energy costs.

    As the Australian Energy Regulator says energy price rises are due to “reductions in thermal generation resulting from unplanned outages and higher coal and gas prices”.
    In other words, electricity prices are rising because ageing coal-fired power stations are breaking down, causing shortages, and the war in Ukraine has sent global coal and gas prices through the roof.

    The coal-fired power industry is slowly “going broke”, to quote former chairwoman of the Energy Security Board Kerry Schott and Scummos government has been subsidising it to the tune of $39 billion dollars a year of your taxpayer money to keep coal oil and gas mines open. https://www.theage.com.au/national/renewable-energy-isn-t-to-blame-for-rising-power-prices-20220529-p5apcz.html

    The greatest lie in Australia’s energy history from Scummo and the Minister for Burning Fossil Fuels is that renewable energy will cause energy prices to increase.

    NO. NO. The opposite is true.
    Its fossil fuels that are holding the world’s energy consumers to ransom and we need to phase them out ASAP.

  8. Stephen S

    Australia is all set for net zero emissions, alongside 40% population increase, vindictive logging and land clearing, profligate water uses, unsustainable irrigation, fires and floods, prolongation of fossil fuels, permissive species crashes, and so on. The new poster child for this energetic and enjoyable signalling of virtue is blue-blood Allegra Spender, who seeks to decarbonise the economy and radically increase the permanent migration intake. Works in Wentworth.

  9. Consume Less

    Spot on to juice media. Malcolm Roberts likens the Greens to terrorists, Wam likens them to vote grabbing loonies, but the Green reach seems to be going further than Brisbane inner burbs. Warning, this article comes from the ABC so will need to fact checked.
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2022-05-24/farmers-working-to-reduce-carbon-emissions-welcome-new-policies-/101092274

    Again New Zealand is sneaking around doing stuff.
    https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2022-05-27/california-new-zealand-announce-climate-change-partnership

  10. totaram

    In related good news, which is a complete bonus:

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2022-05-30/solar-farm-grazing-sheep-agriculture-renewable-energy-review/101097364
    And in other good news:

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-30/barnaby-joyce-out-david-littleproud-elected-to-lead-nationals/101109494

    The Beetrooter can now look forward to have unrestricted fronting to the federal ICAC.

    And there is more, even if you aren’t quite clear what it is about:

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-30/agl-energy-abandons-plans-to-demerge-coal-generation-business/101109556

    And AGL has the cheek to send old retirees “special offers” on electricity prices through the Victoria Seniors Card program. I was so enraged!

  11. totaram

    Consume Less: So the Greens are terrorists, and Malcolm Roberts is to be come our Chief Scientist!!

    Hilarious, is all I can say. I leave it at that.

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