Ambition review under the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period and update on Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions projections

May 2014

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Ambition review under the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period and update on Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions projections [PDF 226 KB]

I. Overview

Australia welcomes the opportunity to present information relating to Australia’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period and Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions projections.

This submission makes the following key points:

  • Australia is firmly committed to its 2020 emissions reduction target of five per cent below 2000 levels.
  • Australia will review its climate change policies in 2015, including its international emissions reduction targets and settings.
  • Australia is committed to taking strong and effective action against climate change. The Direct Action Plan, and its A$2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, will improve practices by businesses and communities to reduce emissions and invest in new and more efficient technologies.
  • Australia recognises the importance of delivering global climate action that is economically responsible and promotes global economic growth.
  • Australia is working to help deliver a new global climate change agreement that creates a common platform for post 2020 action, and is applicable to all countries.

II. Australia’s international mitigation commitments

Australia has committed unconditionally to reduce its emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020. Australia’s Kyoto Protocol second commitment period quantified emission limitation and reduction commitment (QELRC) is to limit average annual emissions to 99.5 per cent of 1990 emissions on average over the period 2013 to 2020. Australia’s QELRC is consistent with Australia’s 2020 target of five per cent below 2000 levels.

The Australian Government considers its 2020 target of five per cent is an appropriate contribution for Australia at this time. On a range of indicators, Australia’s 2020 target is comparable to other advanced economies. The target represents substantial effort. Emissions projections show that without further measures, business as usual (BAU) emissions would reach 17 per cent above 2000 levels by 2020 (an abatement task of 131 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2-e) in 2020 alone for Australia to meet its target in 2020).

The Government has committed to review its international targets in 2015. The review will consider Australia’s international emissions reduction targets and settings in the context of negotiations on a new global climate change agreement to apply to all countries from 2020. It will focus on the extent to which other nations, including the major economies and Australia’s major trading partners, are taking real and comparable actions to reduce emissions.

III. Australia’s domestic mitigation measures

Australia is taking strong and effective action on climate change to achieve our international commitments. The Government is developing a Direct Action Plan, including its centrepiece A$2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), to reduce emissions at lowest cost and help Australia meet its 2020 target.

The Government has released an ERF White Paper which can be accessed at http://www.environment.gov.au/resources/emissions-reduction-fund-white-paper. The ERF will commence following the repeal of Australia’s carbon tax by the Australian Parliament.

The ERF will achieve important co‑benefits to Australian businesses, households and the environment such as through energy efficiency savings and enhanced revegetation activities. The ERF will operate alongside existing programmes that are already working to offset Australia’s emissions growth, such as the Renewable Energy Target and energy standards on appliances, equipment and buildings.

The ERF will create positive financial incentives by making A$2.55 billion available for Australian emitters to adopt better practices and technologies to reduce emissions. The Australian Government, through the ERF, will enter into contracts with successful bidders of auctions to guarantee payment for the future delivery of emissions reduction. Payments will be provided as emissions reduction occurs. All reductions will be estimated and verified using Government approved methods to ensure effort is real and additional.

The Australian Government is developing detailed methodologies for eligible abatement measures in the ERF across a range of sectors. Methodologies already under development include:

  • capture and destruction of coal mine fugitive emissions
  • reductions in emissions-intensity of transport
  • commercial, industrial and aggregated energy efficiency
  • capture and combustion of landfill gas
  • alternative treatment of organic waste
  • capture of combustion of biogas from wastewater
  • methods for the land sector, including increasing soil carbon, reducing livestock emissions and expanding reforestation, and
  • a generic method for emissions reductions at facilities reporting under Australia’s National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS).

More than 30 methodologies will be available at the start of the ERF. Australia has made significant progress in implementing a range of land activity methodologies under the Carbon Farming Initiative which will continue under the ERF.

The ERF will also include a safeguard mechanism to commence 1 July 2015. The mechanism will encourage business not to go above historical emission levels and ensure that emissions reduction paid for through the ERF are not displaced by a significant rise in emissions elsewhere in the economy.

IV. Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions projections

Australia releases official projections of its greenhouse gas emissions annually. In December 2013, Australia released Australia’s Abatement Task and 2013 Emissions Projections (the 2013 Projections) which can be accessed at http://www.environment.gov.au/node/35053.

The 2013 Projections forecast that Australia’s emissions would reach 685 Mt CO2-e1 in 2020 in the absence of policy measures such as the ERF, but taking into account pre-existing measures such as energy efficiency programs and the legislated renewable energy target. Australia’s BAU emissions are expected to grow by two per cent per year on average to 2020, driven by underlying population and economic growth. This underscores the real effort involved in meeting Australia’s target to reduce emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

Australia is making progress towards decarbonising its economy – the emissions intensity of the economy (emissions per unit of GDP) has fallen by about 50 per cent since 1990. Domestic policies have been important in helping achieve this outcome, including through facilitating abatement opportunities in the land sector, regulations for appliance and building standards and sub-national energy efficiency schemes.

V. Supporting serious and coordinated global climate action

Australia supports serious and coordinated global climate action that is economically responsible and promotes economic growth. In particular, Australia is working to deliver a new global climate change agreement that creates a common platform for post 2020 action, and is applicable to all countries.

Australia is engaged in a range of international complementary initiatives and other fora to support our domestic climate goals and an effective 2015 new agreement, including:

  • The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF): The MEF brings together the world’s 17 largest emitters, and is developing a voluntary and ambitious action agenda focused initially on buildings energy efficiency.
  • Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC): The CCAC continues to develop voluntary, practical and business orientated projects to cut emissions and deliver co-benefits such as energy efficiency and improved air quality.
  • Australia is working with countries to build capacity for measurement reporting and verification. This includes bilateral programs to bolster efforts and capabilities in development of national systems and greenhouse gas inventories, and to monitor forests more accurately through the use of satellite data and ground observations, including through the Global Forest Observations Initiative.

These initiatives and fora can help build capacity for mitigation efforts, have a useful demonstration effect for other countries, and contribute to meeting or enhancing emissions reduction commitments.

VI. All countries need to take effective climate action

Ninety-nine countries representing more than 80 per cent of global emissions have now submitted to the UNFCCC pledges to reduce emissions by 2020. Australia particularly welcomes the commitments from the more than 50 non-Annex I countries.

Australia recognises that despite this significant international action, a gap remains between countries’ collective emissions reduction commitments and what is required to stabilise emissions consistent with a below 2 degree temperature goal.

Australia notes over 90 countries have yet to submit a pledge including 20 of the 50 largest emitters. Australia invites all countries to put forward a 2020 pledge to make collective enhanced ambition more achievable. It is critical that all countries take appropriate climate action – not just Parties to the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period which together are estimated to comprise less than 14 per cent of current global emissions and around 10 per cent of global emissions in 20202. In this context, Australia is focused on a 2015 agreement that provides a common platform for all countries to take coordinated global climate action that is economically and fiscally responsible.

1 Estimates are based on Global Warming Potential values from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, and consistent with emissions accounting under the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period.

2 Australian Government analysis – current estimates are based on the latest available comprehensive data (2009).

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Last Updated: 14 May 2014