November 16, 2014

In Australia, Climate Lobby Lifts G20 Pressure for Tony Abbott

Climate  change groups are moving to pressure the government ahead of the G20 meeting in Brisbane this weekend by releasing reports criticizing Tony ­Abbott’s renewable energy policy and calling for a commitment to deeper emissions cuts in 10 years.

The Climate Institute and the Climate Council both yesterday released reports on Australia’s policies in the area ahead of the ­arrival of world leaders.

The Climate Institute report said investment in Australian renewable energy had fallen 70 per cent while in China and the US spending was surging ahead.

With the government in negotiations with Labor over a possible reduction in the renewable energy target to a “real 20 per cent’’, the Climate Council said the lack of government commitment was driving away investment.

“Investment that could be coming to Australia is instead going overseas to countries that are moving to a renewables energy ­future,’’ said report co-author Tim Flannery. “Unfortunately, the lack of federal government commitment to renewable energy is hurting the industry. In the last year investment in Australian renewable energy projects dropped 70 per cent.”

The report said China installed more renewable energy capacity than fossil-fuel generation last year. It also retired 77 gigawatts of coal-power stations between 2006 and 2010 and aims to retire a further 20GW next year.

“The US is also rapidly exploiting the global shift to renewable energy, coming second only to China for installed renewable ­energy due to a range of state-based renewable energy targets, incentives and initiatives,” Professor Flannery said.

Nathan Fabian, chief executive of the Investor Group on Climate Change, said: “We are moving into a phase of competition between nations for low-carbon ­investment capital.’’

The Climate Institute yesterday called on the government to commit to deeper emissions ­reduction targets after 2020.

Its report, which examined the evolving international climate framework, found that Australia would need a net 2025 emissions reduction target of 40 per cent below 2000 levels and decarbonisation of the economy from 2040 to meet its international obligations to keep warming to 2C.

“By just focusing on 2020 emission and renewable energy goals, recent political debate has ­ignored growing scientific, investment and international realities,’’ Climate Institute deputy chief executive Erwin Jackson said. “This short-term focus is simply a high-risk approach to the ­sig­nificant challenges of decarbon­ising our economy and helping avoid dangerous impacts for Australia.”

In Warsaw last year, Australia and other countries agreed to ­advance their initial post-2020 targets in early 2015. Mr Jackson said Europe recently agreed its initial post-2020 offer of at least 40 per cent cuts in emissions by 2030.

The US and China have said they will advance targets soon. The Climate Institute also called for a medium-term emission pathway of 65-75 per cent reductions on 2000 levels by 2035 and a long-term goal to decarbonize between 2040 and 2050.

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