Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Australian Government - Denial and Subterfuge on Climate

Analysis by Climate Analytics, a Berlin-based science and policy institute, found there were no grounds for Australia to claim credit towards its Paris emissions target for having beaten targets under its predecessor, the Kyoto protocolAustralia’s plan to use an accounting loophole to meet its commitment under the Paris climate agreement has no legal basis and suggests it has reneged on a pledge to make deeper emissions cuts once a global deal was reached, a new report says.

It found the two agreements were separate treaties and should not be treated as a continuation of one agreement.  Carryover credits were allowed under the soon-to-be-obsolete Kyoto protocol in a bid to encourage countries to be as ambitious in cutting pollution as possible. They were not mentioned in the original Paris agreement but have been added to the text being negotiated in Madrid, with some countries proposing they be banned. Officials told Senate estimates earlier this year that Australia was the only country planning to use them. Several developed countries have explicitly ruled out using them. Australia strongly opposes a ban and has factored in the credits as necessary for it to meet its Paris commitment. Climate Analytics found there was nothing in the legal framework of the Kyoto protocol that permitted the carryover over of emissions cuts into a new agreement after it ends in 2020. It says most of the credits, which the Morrison government now describes as its “overachievement”, were a direct result of Australia having massive emissions from deforestation in 1990, the year against which targets under the Kyoto deal are measured. It says the claimed overachievement also came directly from Australia’s decision to give itself targets that were far less ambitious than other countries: an 8% increase in emissions between 1990 and 2010, and what was equivalent to just a 0.5% cut below 1990 and 2020 (expressed as a 5% cut below 2000 levels).
The report, commissioned by the Australia Institute, has been released as Australia faces a challenge from at least 100 mostly developing countries at a UN climate conference in Madrid over its plan to use carryover credits from the Kyoto protocol to meet its Paris target for 2030. The report says Australia appeared to have reneged on a commitment to increase its 2020 target from a 5% cut below 2000 levels to a 15% cut if the world reached a comprehensive treaty that was capable of limiting emissions to below 450 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide. 

Anote Tong, a former president of low-lying Kiribati, said, “Australia is on fire due in large part to climate change, ands it is beyond me why the Australian government is looking for ways to weaken the Paris agreement so it and others can do less to solve the climate crisis.”

Richie Merzian, the Australia Institute’s climate and energy director, said: “This research makes clear that there is no scientific, moral or legal foundation for the Australian government’s determination to gain credit for its historic recalcitrance.”

Meanwhile, thousands of people have rallied in Sydney to protest against inaction on the climate crisis, after months of bushfires and hazardous smoke in New South Wales and Queensland.

On Tuesday, the level of dangerous PM2.5 particles in Sydney’s air was as high as 10 times normal, and fires have burnt through nearly 3 million hectares of land across NSW and Queensland this season.
Leighton Drury, the NSW secretary of the Fire Brigades Employees Union, said that firefighters were “spread thin”.
“I am well-qualified to say that these are the worst fires we’ve had in decades, and they’re not going to get better unless we take action,” he said. “A decade of denial about own environment changing has led to this … the solution is simple. Firefighters put out fires. Politicians put out policies and budgets. We’ve got our job, they need to do theirs better”.

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