The central aim of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. The Paris agreement requires all parties to put forward their best efforts through nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in future1.
Australia’s Paris target consists of reducing its carbon dioxide emissions to 26-28% below the 2005 level by 20302 and to reach net zero emissions by 20503. If you happen to read the article on the Department of Environment’s website, they give the impression of doing more than we are, and they do this by simple obfuscation. They refer to this 26-28% absolute decrease as being equivalent to a 50-52% reduction in emissions per capita (i.e. per person), and a 64-65% reduction in the emissions intensity of the economy (i.e. per dollar of GDP)2. Unfortunately, it is only if the Earth was increasing in size that the per capita rate or the per dollar of GDP rate would mean anything. The ocean and atmosphere are finite and it is the absolute amount of carbon dioxide entering those which is important, so the per capita rate and per dollar of GDP rate are entirely meaningless.
Australia emitted 604.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2005. Therefore, for Australia to cut its emissions by 26% from that level we will have to decrease emissions by 157.2 million tonnes4. That would take our emissions down to 447.5 million tonnes4. So, where are we now? It is estimated that we emitted 547.0 million tons of carbon dioxide in the year to December 20174. Which direction are we going? Our emissions are increasing. For the year to December 2017, emissions were 1.5% higher than the previous year. And for the year to December 2016, emissions were also 1.5% higher than the previous year5.
The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has said that Australia will meet its Paris emissions targets “in a canter” despite the government having no policies to achieve them6. Most likely, he would have been right if Australia had kept the Gillard government’s price on carbon dioxide emissions. During that two-year period, total annual greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.8%. They have been climbing ever since the legislation was repealed in 2014, and have climbed a total of 4.7%5.
It is difficult to understand a government that is so panicked into inaction by its religious right-wing nut jobs, but is so desperate to give the impression of actually doing something, that it can only tell lies. Lying is not a policy.