Australia cooking the books to meet emissions target as carbon pollution soars

As Australia picked up its shameful fourth Fossil of the Day award at the Lima climate talks today, Climate Action Tracker (CAT) released a new analysis showing that creative accounting and years of diplomatic maneuvering is allowing Australia to increase emissions while still meeting its minimum five per cent reduction commitment.

Australia’s emissions reduction target needs to be at least triple its current five per cent on 2000 levels by 2020 for it to be credible. For it to meet its share of the challenge to keep average world temperatures below 2DegC it needs to be far higher.

CAT says in real terms Australia’s emissions are likely to be 26 per cent above 2000 levels by 2020, and a huge 47-59 per cent above its original kyoto pledge. Yet while its actual emissions are soaring, Australia can still meet its already lax commitments with barely any action thanks to being selective on baseline emission sources, and its creative approach to accounting for land use change and forestry.

“It has become increasingly apparent that whenever Australia has talked of committing to reducing emissions, what it really means is that it will continue to increase emissions from fossil fuel and industry sources. Instead, it has hidden its emissions behind the Kyoto rules, most of which it has exerted considerable diplomatic effort over more than 15 years to secure in its favour.” CEO of Climate Analytics, Bill Hare.

The Abbott government has been doing everything it can to wreck positive action on climate change at home, where it has axed carbon pricing and a host of climate bodies, crippled renewable energy with uncertainty, quietly dropped the “25” part of its 5 to 25 per cent emissions reductions pledge, and doubled down on coal in a collapsing international market.

It is now attempting to crawl away from its responsibilities internationally, and has taken to making threats if it is not allowed to use these favourable to emit a further six per cent more carbon on top of its already worst-in-show per capita emissions.

These are not the actions of a “good international citizen” that is “playing its part”. Even positive sounding moves – such as it finally making a contribution to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – ring hollow, as in the case of the GCF it is simply shuffling around money it said it had already committed to “climate projects” as part of its foreign aid programme.

Top image: Fossil of the Day, CAN.



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