Take it a Step at a Time to Hit Emissions Reduction Targets

The Business Council of Australia has proposed a three-tiered system of greenhouse gas emissions targets to make sure action to respond to climate change is credible and achievable while maintaining Australia’s competitive advantage.

The proposal for long-term, intermediate and ‘gateway’ targets has been developed by the BCA to provide a framework for determining effective and credible targets for the Australian economy.

The proposal, Setting Achievable Emissions Targets for Australia, provides further detail on the multifaceted approach to emissions reduction outlined in April in the BCA’s climate change policy, Strategic Framework for Emissions Reduction.

“The BCA’s policy identified the importance of a multifaceted approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions based on an emissions trading scheme, the development and deployment of low-emissions technologies and increasing energy efficiency,” BCA President, Mr Michael Chaney, said.

“But equally critical elements of an effective emissions trading scheme are a longer-term emissions reduction goal and the related or immediate targets or caps on emissions.

“With the report expected soon from the Prime Minister’s Task Group on Emissions Trading, the BCA has developed this framework to guide how current and future governments can go about setting sustainable emissions reduction targets and goals.

“Our report highlights the need for the federal government to establish a rigorous and transparent process which ensures targets are both credible and achievable for Australia.

“But prior to determining the quantum of any reduction target Australia must first undertake extensive national economic modelling, data collection and analysis and develop a detailed knowledge of the likely climate change policies and targets of other countries, particularly those that we trade and compete with,” Mr Chaney said.

Setting Achievable Emissions Targets for Australia, which was undertaken for the BCA by Port Jackson Partners Limited Director Mr Rod Sims, highlights the following:

  • Modelling and research to establish credible targets should commence quickly, once it is decided to develop an emissions trading scheme;
  • The modelling and research should be done by a body able to assess the economic, social and environmental impacts which will provide advice to government;
  • Targets must be credible environmentally as well as technically feasible;
  • Australia needs three sets of targets, including long term of between 30 to 40 years, rolling annual fixed targets initially over 5 years and then later 10 years, and regular target ‘gateways’ where reduction progress can be assessed; and
  • The targets must be reviewed on a regular basis to take account of factors including changes in our knowledge of climate science, changes in technology, global developments, and the impact on Australia.

Mr Chaney said the report outlined a way forward for Australia to establish credible targets that provide the basis for a smooth eventual transition to a low-emissions economy.

“A key consideration is how we can achieve a transition to a low-emission economy in a way that recognises the unique features of the Australian economy and international progress in emissions reduction while making a sustainable contribution to global emissions reduction,” he said.

“If Australia links sensible and credible emissions reduction targets to a long-term, well designed emissions trading scheme we can break new ground and provide a way forward that other countries could be encouraged to join.”

Setting Achievable Emissions Targets for Australia