New scientific analysis has shown that Australia’s fair share of action to give the world a chance of keeping global heating to 1.5C would mean reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2038 – more than a decade ahead of the government’s schedule.
Australia’s 2035 target would need to see a cut of 90% on 2005 levels by 2035 to stay on track to keep global heating of 1.5C, according to the analysis.
The research, from two leading scientists who contributed to the UN climate panel’s assessment of how quickly global emissions will need to drop, points to how far Australia has to go to legitimately claim its targets are in line with the 1.5C goal.
The Albanese government has already updated the country’s target to a 43% cut on 2005 levels by 2030 – an improvement on the Morrison government’s 26% commitment.
Associate professor Malte Meinshausen and Dr Zebedee Nicholls of Climate Resource say that the improved target would need to have been “at least 67%” to have been in line with 1.5C. While Australia has a net zero target by 2050, Meinshausen and Nicholls say this net zero date should be 2038 based on Australia’s “fair share” of effort.
Nicholls was quoted as saying “We are at the point where we need to be going for maximum possible ambition. Every mitigation option that we have we need to look at seriously. “This is the minimum that Australia should be looking at if we’re serious about 1.5C.”
The concept of what a “fair share” of effort represents is contested and not agreed between countries.
Among other things, the new analysis considers how much the entire planet could emit – known as the carbon budget – while giving a 50% chance of keeping global temperatures to 1.5C. It gives Australia a 0.97% share of that global budget, a figure taken from a 2014 Climate Change Authority report that sees developed countries making faster cuts to allow developing countries more time to decarbonise.
According to Climate Resource, the government’s current plans would lead to 7.6bn tonnes of CO2-equivalent being released by Australia between 2021 and 2050, which was “roughly double” a budget of 4bn tonnes “for a 50% chance of staying below 1.5C.”
Story was adapted from the Guardian.