A report released last month by the Department of the Environment and Energy shows that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are estimated to be just 1.6% below their 2000 level. This means that, come June (when the 2020 fiscal year ends), we will have missed Australia’s decade-long, bipartisan and treaty commitment to reduce emissions by 5% by 2020 relative to 2000. Australia is not now scheduled to hit that target until a decade later. The 5% target was written by Australia into the amended Kyoto Protocol. Far from “meeting and beating” our international targets, as the Prime Minister insists, we have clearly fallen short.
The 2008 Garnaut Climate Change Review proposed three 2020 emissions reduction targets, with varying levels of ambition: 5%, 10% and 25%, all relative to 2000. The 5% target – put forward by the Review as the minimum Australia should do, regardless of what other countries commit to – was adopted by Kevin Rudd, and ever since has had bipartisan support. Even Tony Abbott said that the 5% target was his “one commitment and one commitment only” when it came to emissions reductions.
Fast forward to 2020, however, and it turns out we have missed that 5% target – and by quite a margin. Our actual emissions reduction by 2020 relative to 2000 is closer to zero than 5%. How can this be the case when we have the Prime Minister saying a year ago that “we will comfortably smash Kyoto 2”, and the Energy Minister Angus Taylor telling us just two weeks ago we will “beat our 2020 targets”?
Note how Taylor refers to 2020 targets rather than target. Australia in fact adopted more than one international commitment with respect to its emissions up to 2020 in the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which Australia signed up to in 2012, and ratified in 2016.