Labor’s 2050 target blows 2 degrees and gives up on Paris Agreement: Bandt
Australian Greens Leader Adam Bandt has slammed Anthony Albanese’s move to adopt a net zero by 2050 pollution target, saying it will blow the 2 degrees budget and mean Australia gives up on the Paris agreement.
It is expected that Anthony Albanese will tomorrow announce that Labor will adopt a target of net-zero by 2050, without any target for 2030. Based on current projections, a simple straight-line reduction from 2022-2050 would blow Australia’s ‘2 degrees’ budget (as determined by the Climate Change Authority) and would likely exceed the 2 degrees budget as early as 2034.
Quotes attributable to Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP:
“After a summer of climate catastrophe, we need to keep the pressure up on Scott Morrison, not water down climate ambition.
“Without a target for 2030, Labor isn’t just taking the pressure off Scott Morrison, they’re starting to walk away from the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees.
“The Liberals have spent so much of our carbon budget that action after 2022 has become even more urgent.
“By saying ‘we’ll pick up where the Liberals leave off in 2022, abandon our 45% by 2030 target but get to net-zero in 2050’, Labor would blow the 2 degrees budget and give up on the Paris agreement.
“Without strong 2030 targets, a 2050 target is next to meaningless. Unless we act in the next decade, it will be too late to stop runaway global warming.
“If Labor walks away from its current 2030 targets, it could hit our ‘2 degrees’ tipping point as early as 2034.
“As our projections demonstrate, a linear trajectory from 2022 to net zero emissions by 2050 is not climate ambition but complete climate failure, blowing the 2 degree carbon budget and locking us into climate catastrophe.
“We need Labor to work with the Greens to push for real climate action rather than watering down their plans. We need a Climate Emergency war cabinet to bring Parliament together to achieve climate action, rather than kicking the can down the road.
“Saving humanity from the climate emergency means doing what the science demands, not just being slightly better than the Liberals.”
In its 2014 Paper “Reducing Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Targets and Progress Review - Final Report”, the Climate Change Authority (CCA) was extremely clear that Australia’s 2013-2050 CO2e emissions budget, based on Australia’s fair share of the global 2°C budget, is 10.1 Gt or 10,100 Mt. Labor has relied on the CCA’s work to arrive at its 2019 election policy of a 45% cut on 2005 emissions by 2030.
Relying on the Department of Environment and Energy’s official projections - “Australia’s emissions projections 2019”, in 2022 emissions will be 522.1 Mt. Adding historical emissions data to current emissions projections will mean that a total of 5,307 Mt of CO2e emissions have been emitted from this budget by 2022, when we will have the next possible change of government at an election.
This leaves a remaining CCA carbon budget of 4,793 Mt (10,100 Mt - 5,307 Mt) of CO2e remaining for the period 2022-2050.
However, relaxing the 2030 target and instead adopting a ‘straight line’ trajectory from 2022 down to 2050 blows this carbon budget.
On this approach, when emissions across all years between 2022 and 2050 are totalled, 7,048 Mt of CO2 are emitted. When this is added to our committed emissions from 2013-2022, Australia will emit 12,355 Mt of CO2e (5,307 + 7,048) between 2013-2050.
Therefore, if Australia was to abandon a 45% by 2030 target and instead rely on a linear net-zero pathway from 2022 to 2050, we blow the 2°C budget by 2,255 Mt, or over two billion tonnes.
By way of further detail, if emissions proceed linearly from 2022 to 2050, Australia reaches ~39% below 2005 emissions by 2030, ~45% below 2005 emissions by 2032, ~54% below 2005 emissions by 2035 and ~69% below 2005 emissions by 2040.
This will also see Australia reach 10.1 Gt of the cumulative 2013-2050 emissions budget by 2034, blowing the 2°C budget sixteen years early and making Labor’s net-zero budget meaningless.
In order for our 2013-2050 CO2e emissions to be in line with the 2°C budget, we need deeper and faster emissions cuts, particularly when assuming business as usual projected emissions until 2022 under the Morrison Government.
 Climate Change Authority 2014, Reducing Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Targets and Progress Review - Final Report
 Department of the Environment and Energy 2019, Table 4 - Australia’s emissions projections 2019 - chart data