Medium Term Emissions Reduction Target: Minerals Council of Australia Submission

Australia’s medium term emissions reduction target must represent a constructive contribution to a global agreement in Paris, reflect a fair and comparable economic burden and be informed by comprehensive economic analysis.

The assessment of a 2030 target should also be informed by a rational debate on Australia’s contribution to date.

Far from being a laggard, over the last 25 years Australia has performed better at constraining CO2 emissions growth and meeting agreed emissions targets than most developed and major developing nations.

Under the Kyoto Protocol commitments, between 1990 and the average of 2008-2012, Australia’s CO2 emissions grew by just 3.6 per cent.  Over the same period, CO2 emissions in the United States grew by 9.3 per cent.  Canadian emissions grew by 41.2 per cent and Japan’s grew by 5 per cent. Spain’s emissions grew by 26 per cent, Greece’s by 16 per cent, China’s by 339 per cent while India’s doubled.

Meanwhile analysis by former senior Clinton Administration official Jeffrey Frankel at Harvard University has demonstrated that Australia’s that Australia’s 2020 emissions reduction target is comparable in ‘economic fairness’ to key developed nations, including the European Union and the United States, and is more ambitious than many others including those of Canada, Japan and Singapore.

With an export-oriented economy and stronger economic and population growth than most of the developed world, meeting our targets has required greater economic effort by Australia than for many other nations. Treasury modelling over the past seven years suggests that future costs of abating emissions could be up to 50 per cent more than for the rest of the world.

This means Australia should not settle on its target without comprehensive analysis (including economic modelling) that measures the economic impact on all major national industry sectors and states and territories. 

The base year for assessing national targets should be a common one, with several major economies using 2005 as their base year. Australia should also use 2005 as the base year.

Any consideration of policy measures to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions over the medium term should include a serious review of the existing ban on nuclear power. Australia hosts more than 30 per cent of global uranium reserves. Removal of the legislative ban on nuclear power would be a critical first step towards developing that option.

The bottom line is that Australia has an important role to play in forging a new global agreement. In preparation for negotiations in Paris in November, a considered national debate on the scale of Australia's emissions reduction target is essential.  That discussion must be informed by credible and comprehensive economic analysis on the impacts of competing options on living standards, jobs and major economic sectors. 

Link to submission below. 

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