The Labor government has committed Australia to a 43 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, but Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi says the target is still not enough to meet the nation’s Paris Agreement climate treaty obligations.
Climate experts told AAP FactCheck Senator Faruqi’s claim is accurate. They say Labor’s emissions target falls short of Australia’s Paris Agreement pledge to keep warming well below two degrees Celsius and preferably under 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
Senator Faruqi made the claim on ABC Radio Sydney on June 20.
“Labor’s climate target of 43 per cent is actually not consistent with achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, and it is not consistent with science, and it will mean the end of the Great Barrier Reef, it will mean more fires, it will mean worse floods,” she said.
The Paris Agreement is a legally-binding treaty that requires signatory countries to “put forward their best efforts” to keep a global temperature rise this century “well below two degrees Celsius” and to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius”.
Emissions reductions are implemented through nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
On June 16, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese wrote to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to say Australia had “enhanced” its NDC to include a 43 per cent emissions reduction by 2030.
ANU environmental economics expert Frank Jotzo agreed with Senator Faruqi that Labor’s 43 per cent target falls short of the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
“It is impossible to match a specific national emissions target with a particular global temperature outcome, because it is a judgement call as to which country should do how much,” Professor Jotzo told AAP FactCheck in an email.
“What is clear is that a 43% target for Australia is completely incompatible with a 1.5C outcome, and in plausible analyses is also incompatible with a global 2C outcome.”
Matt McDonald, from the University of Queensland’s School of Political Science and International Studies, agrees.
“She’s (Senator Faruqi) right,” Associate Professor McDonald told AAP FactCheck in an email.
“If the goal is to keep warming under 1.5 (as Paris articulated), 43% is well below the level of ambition we’d need to see from countries with an emissions profile like Australia. It’s probably just short of the mark for 2 degrees, to be honest.”
Analysis of political parties’ climate policies conducted in the lead-up to the federal election also found Labor’s 43 per cent target was still “not compatible with the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goals” and would put Australia’s contribution to the agreement “in the middle of the two degrees compatible range of emissions”.
The analysis was published by Climate Analytics, an international climate research organisation funded by environmental groups including Greenpeace Foundation and the Australian Conservation Foundation, as well as other funders.
Bill Hare, the study’s author, told AAP FactCheck in an email that Australia would need to reduce emissions domestically by more than 60 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 to be consistent with the Paris Agreement.
The UN states countries must reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 to keep global warming to no more than 1.5C as called for in the Paris Agreement.
Associate Professor McDonald said Labor’s revised target does not achieve this and Australia should be going even further.
“Under the agreed commitment to common but differentiated responsibility (codified under the UNFCCC), Australia would need to be on the side of countries committing well more to international efforts given; a) economic capacity to wear costs of doing so; b) low-hanging fruit for emissions reduction given how limited our efforts have been so far; and c) per capita emissions.”
Dr Hare concurs, stating the Paris Agreement “stipulates that high emitters with a high level of economic development, like Australia, should go further and faster to cut emissions than developing countries”.
Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi’s claim that Labor’s 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 is not in line with the Paris Agreement is true.
The agreement requires signatory countries to make “their best efforts” to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius. Climate policy experts told AAP FactCheck the 43 per cent target falls short of that commitment.
True – The claim is accurate.
* Editor’s note: AAP FactCheck has expanded its ability to fact-check environmental issues with the support of the Australian Conservation Foundation. AAP FactCheck retains full editorial independence in this project and continues to apply the rigorous standards required for accredited members of the International Fact-Checking Network.
* July 11, 2022 4:00pm: Edit made to change ‘Greenpeace’ to ‘Greenpeace Foundation’.