Beyond domestic targets: Urgent need for leadership

Australia’s escalating exports of coal and LNG is a climate wrecking factor which dwarfs our domestic emissions.

The Australian Government’s blinkered focus is on its domestic emissions target: a 43 per cent reduction by 2030, or perhaps only 42 per cent, as recently suggested. Yet, this overlooks the far greater impact of our escalating exports of coal and LNG on the global climate—a factor dwarfing our domestic emissions.

The 43 percent target is seemingly the only mitigation effort on the table for both our government and opposition. Despite clear directives from the International Energy Agency and the United Nations, the Federal Government persistently greenlights new coal and gas projects to bolster our fossil fuel exports.

It’s time for a collective, unyielding call to immediately halt all new fossil fuel mining and generation projects. Concurrently, we must legislate a steady decline to zero of these exports over a feasible 12-16 year time frame.

Australia should be a vocal advocate at the United Nations, urging other major fossil fuel exporters to join this crucial shift.

The anticipated reduction in export revenue and associated contractual risks can be more than compensated by parallel investments in mining and renewable energy-driven refining of essential minerals. These are vital globally for the green revolution and offer significant added value and reduced shipping needs.

The necessary mineral deposits are already here, along with the technology, expertise, and workforce—primed for action if we time it right.

What, then, hinders our progress?

The answer lies in a deficiency of vision and political bravery among our leaders, compounded by a lack of coordinated, persistent advocacy from us—the voters, the Australian public. The pressure for change must emanate from the cross benches, think tanks, and all of us collectively.

Source: Our World in Data

→ Australia Institute – 30 November 2023:
The Government needs to stop using dodgy “land use” accounting to suggest emissions are falling
“Australia’s actual emissions have barely changed since 2005.”

The offical emission figures

Emissions in 2005: Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions including land use were 610 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Emissions in 2022: The reported emissions for the year leading up to December 2022 were 463 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. 137 million tonnes of this improvement come from lower land use emissions.

2030 Reduction Target: The Federal Government’s goal is to reduce emissions by 43 per cent from the 2005 levels by 2030.

Calculating this reduction from the 2005 level of 610 million tonnes, the Government’s target for 2030 is approximately 348 million tonnes per year. This will be 262 million tonnes less than what was emitted in Australia in 2005.

The emissions in 2022 (464 million tonnes) are already significantly lower than the 2005 levels (610 million tonnes) and are approaching the 2030 target of 348 million tonnes. This indicates substantial progress in reducing emissions, though most of the reduction comes from land use emissions, and further reduction is required to meet the 2030 goal.

In the 2022-2023 financial year, Australian companies earned $464 billion from resource and energy exports, which include fossil fuels like coal and LNG.

The Australian Government’s figures

→ The Conversation – 5 December 2023:
Fossil CO₂ emissions hit record high yet again in 2023
“Global emissions of fossil carbon dioxide (CO₂), in yet another year of growth, will increase by 1.1% in 2023. These emissions will hit a record 36.8 billion tonnes.” 

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