In order to achieve current climate change goals, Australia needs to use a long-term carbon budget approach to properly assess the risks, responsibilities and realities of doing its fair share.
Australia’s carbon laws and international negotiations are based on avoiding more than two degrees global warming above pre-industrial levels. To have good chance of achieving this, no more than 1,500 billion tonnes of carbon pollution can be released to 2050.
Defining Australia’s fair share of the global carbon budget is a complex task, but it is critical if short-term targets are to be set with clear reference to avoiding dangerous climate change. Australia’s current high levels of per capita carbon pollution make this particularly challenging.
Like any budget, the more you spend early the less you have for later. If targets are set without reference to a long-term and fair national carbon budget, more draconian emissions reductions will be required after 2020 to meet national goals and international commitments.
This report argues that Australia needs to use a long-term carbon budget approach to properly recognise the risks, responsibilities and realities in doing its fair share in helping achieve climate change goals set in the national interest.