Vital Signs: a 3-point plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050



Shutterstock

Richard Holden, UNSW

Every January Larry Fink, the head of the world’s largest funds manager, BlackRock, sends a letter to the chief executives of major public companies.

This year’s letter focused on climate risk. “Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects,” Fink wrote. To put sustainability at the centre of its investment approach, he said, BlackRock would stop investing in companies that “present a high sustainability-related risk”.




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Now business leaders – even big money managers – express opinions all the time, and major companies keep doing what they are doing. But this was different.

Fink, who’s in charge of US$7 trillion (that’s not a typo – $7,000,000,000,000), says in his letter: “In the near future – and sooner than most anticipate – there will be a significant reallocation of capital.”

It’s emphasised in bold type. That’s something to which chief executives pay attention.

Even before the letter was sent – but knowing what was coming – major US companies like Amazon, Delta Air Lines and Microsoft announced new climate action plans.

These three companies are in different industries with different abilities to take action. But the plans they’ve outlined illuminate the three key strategies needed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Delta Air Lines

Delta, being an airline, burns a lot of fossil fuels. Bar an extraordinary technological shift in aircraft, it will burn a lot of fossil fuels well into the future.




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The airline’s goal by 2050 is to cut its carbon emissions to half the levels they were in 2005. It plans to do this through a combination of fuel-efficiency measures and helping spur the development of more sustainable jet fuels. In the medium term (up to 2035), its goal is “carbon-neutral growth”, buying carbon offsets for any increases in emissions from jet fuel due to business growth.

Delta Air Lines operates about 5,000 flights a day. Jet fuel accounts for about 99% of its total emissions.
Shutterstock

Let’s consider the economics of the Delta plan – at least up to 2035.

Buying carbon offsets increases the airline’s costs. These are passed on to customers – in which case it is simply a form of carbon tax – or paid for by shareholders through lower profits. I’m betting it’s not the shareholders who will pay.

So Delta is essentially imposing its own carbon tax in the hope customers who care about the environment will be more attracted to its brand or that other airlines follow suit.

Amazon

Amazon, which reported a carbon footprint of 44.4 million metric tons in 2018, is doing two broad things.

The company has a fleet of about 30,000 delivery vans. It plans to have 100,000 electric vehicles by 2024. This will reduce the company’s carbon footprint so long as the vans are charged with power from sustainable sources.

Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has also announced the Bezos Earth Fund, which will give away US$10 billion in grants to anyone with good ideas to address climate change or other environmental issues.

Again, let’s consider the basic economics at play here.

Moving to electric vehicles is a smart hedge against rising fuel costs from a price on carbon – something that already exists in California.

The Bezos Earth Fund, meanwhile, is an excellent example of taking money generated from maximising shareholder value – Amazon is valued at about US$1 trillion and Bezos’s personal fortune (pre-divorce) was about US$130 billion – and redistributing it to socially productive causes.

Microsoft

Finally, Microsoft – the least-carbon-intensive business of the three mentioned here – plans to be carbon-negative by 2030, and by 2050 to have offset all the emissions it has been responsible for (both directly and through electricity consumption) since its founding in 1975.

Since 2012 it has had an “internal carbon tax”, which in April 2019 was doubled to US$15 a tonne. This price mechanism is used to make Microsoft’s business divisions financially responsible for reducing emissions.

On top of this, Microsoft has developed the AI for Earth program, which provides cloud-computing tools for researchers working on sustainability issues to process data more effectively.

Lessons for Australia

Australia’s Coalition government and Labor opposition would do well to heed the lessons of these three companies.

Together they show three clear strategies:

  • a technological push to lower emissions
  • a price on carbon to drive technological innovation and uptake
  • clear goals to reduce emissions.

Our political parties both have one out of three. Right now Labor has announced a goal. The Coalition is promising a technology plan some time soon.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is right to criticise Labor for not having a plan. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is right to criticise the Coalition for not having a suitable goal.

But neither of them advocates a price on carbon, without which neither technology road maps nor ambitious goals will translate into sufficient emissions reductions.




Read more:
Carbon pricing: it’s a proven way to reduce emissions but everyone’s too scared to mention it


Technology investment, a carbon price and clear goals are all necessary to effectively reduce carbon emissions. Without all three we are bound to fail.

And we no longer have time for that, according to climate scientists.The Conversation

Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Labor’s climate policy is too little, too late. We must run faster to win the race


Will Steffen, Australian National University

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s announcement on Friday that a Labor government would adopt a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 was a big step in the right direction. But a bit of simple maths reveals the policy is too little, too late.

Perhaps the most robust way to assess whether a proposed climate action is strong enough to meet a temperature target is to apply the “carbon budget” approach. A carbon budget is the cumulative amount of carbon dioxide the world can emit to stay within a desired temperature target.

Once the budget is spent (in other words, the carbon dioxide is emitted), the world must have achieved net-zero emissions if the temperature target is to be met.

So let’s take a look at how Labor’s target stacks up against the remaining carbon budget.

Blowing the budget

The term “net-zero emissions” means any human emissions of carbon dioxide are cancelled out by the uptake of carbon by the Earth – such as by vegetation or soil – or that the emissions are prevented from entering the atmosphere, by using technology such as carbon capture and storage.

(The net-zero emissions concept is fraught with scientific complexities and the potential for perverse outcomes and unethical government policies – but that’s an article for another day.)

So let’s assume every country in the world adopted the net-zero-by-2050 target. This is a plausible assumption, as the UK, New Zealand, Canada, France, Germany and many others have already done so.




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What then should the world’s remaining carbon budget be, starting from this year?

The globally agreed Paris target aims to stabilise the global average temperature rise at 1.5℃ above the pre-industrial level, or at least keep the rise to well below 2℃.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that from 2020, the remaining 1.5℃ carbon budget is about 130 GtC (billion tonnes of carbon dioxide). This is based on a 66% probability that limiting further emissions to this level will keep warming below the 1.5℃ threshold.

Current global emissions are about 11.5 GtC per year. So at this rate, the budget would be blown in just 11 years.

How does Labor’s policy stack up?

This is where the “net-zero emissions by 2050” target fails. Even if the world met this target, and reduced emissions evenly over 30 years, cumulative global emissions would be about 170 GtC by 2050. That is well over the 130 GtC budget needed to limit warming to 1.5℃.

So how far would Labor’s target go towards limiting warming to 2℃?




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The carbon budget for that target is about 335 GtC. So a net-zero-by-2050 policy could, in principle, stabilise the climate at well below 2℃.

But a word of caution is needed here. The budgets I used above ignore two “jokers in the pack” that could slash the carbon budget and make the Paris targets much harder to achieve.

Jokers in the pack

The first joker is that the carbon budgets I used assume we will reduce emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, at about the same rate we reduce carbon dioxide.

But these potent non-CO₂ gases, which primarily come from the agriculture
sector, are generally more difficult to curb than carbon dioxide. Because of this, the IPCC recognises the carbon budget may have to be reduced if these gases are emitted at amounts higher than assumed.

Given the large uncertainties in how fast we can reduce emissions of these non-CO₂ gases, I’ve taken a mid-range estimate of their effect on the 1.5℃ carbon budget and consequently lowered it by 50 Gt. (This value is based on a median non-CO₂ warming contribution as estimated by the IPCC.) This reduces the remaining carbon budget to only about 80 Gt.

Second, the carbon budgets do not include feedbacks in the climate system, such as forest dieback in the Amazon or melting permafrost. These processes are both caused by climate change, at least in part, and amplify it by releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Emissions caused by feedbacks are expected to increase as global average temperature rises. Under a 1.5℃ rise, feedback processes could emit about 70 Gt of carbon dioxide. When the 1.5℃ budget is adjusted for both non-CO2 greenhouse gases and feedbacks, this leaves just one year’s worth of global emissions in the bank.

The corresponding reductions for the 2℃ warming limit reduce its carbon budget to 160 GtC. This is less than the cumulative emissions of 170 GtC if every country adopted a net-zero-by-2050 policy.

What does effective climate action look like?

These calculations are confronting enough. But for Australia there is, in addition, a huge elephant in the room – or rather, in the coal mine.

Our exported emissions – those created when our coal, gas and other fossil fuels are burned overseas – are about 2.5 times more than our domestic emissions. Exported emissions are not counted on Australia’s ledger, but they all contribute to the escalating impacts of climate change – including the bushfires that devastated southeast Australia this summer.

So, what would an effective climate action plan look like? In my view, the central actions should be:

  • cut domestic emissions by 50% by 2030
  • move the net-zero target date forward to 2045, or, preferably 2040
  • ban new fossil fuel developments of any kind, for either export or domestic use

The striking students are right. We are in a climate emergency.

The net-zero-by-2050 policy is a step in the right direction but is not nearly enough. Our emission reduction actions must be ramped up even more – and fast – to give our children and grandchildren a fighting chance of a habitable planet.




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The Conversation


Will Steffen, Emeritus Professor, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Albanese pledges Labor government would have 2050 carbon-neutral target



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Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Anthony Albanese will commit a Labor government to adopting a target of zero net emissions by 2050, in a speech titled “Leadership in a New Climate” to be delivered on Friday.

The opposition leader’s embrace of this target, which the ALP also took to the last election, is in line with the policies of state and territory governments, many companies and the Business Council of Australia. It is also the public stand of some Liberal moderates but is totally rejected by the Nationals and hard-line Liberals.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to adopt it.

“Currently no one can tell me that going down that path won’t cost jobs, won’t put up your electricity prices, and won’t impact negatively on jobs in the economies of rural and regional Australia, ” he said this week.

In his speech, released ahead of time, Albanese also says a Labor government would never use Kyoto credits to meet Australia’s Paris targets, as the government will do if that is necessary.

And Albanese again condemns the government for putting $4 million into a feasibility study for a coal-fired power station in Collinsville, Queensland.

But Albanese is leaving until closer to the election the shorter-term emissions reduction target Labor will adopt.

At the last election it committed to a 45% reduction in emissions by 2030. Labor first took that target to the 2016 election and Albanese has previously said it was a mistake not to review it before the 2019 poll.

He says in his speech the 2050 carbon-neutral target should be “as non-controversial in Australia as it is in most nations”.

“This will be a real target, with none of the absurd nonsense of so-called ‘carryover credits’ that the prime minister has cooked up to give the impression he’s doing something when he isn’t.

“That’s not acting. It’s cheating. And Australian’s aren’t cheaters.”

On the Collinsville project, he says: “Let’s be clear. There is nothing to stop a private company investing its money in such a proposal. The reason it hasn’t is it doesn’t stack up.”

The $4 million is “just hush money for the climate sceptics who are stopping any real reform and who stopped the National Energy Guarantee supported by Turnbull, Morrison and Frydenberg.

“It’s pathetic. If it made sense the market would provide funding.

“The climate sceptics are market sceptics as well,” Albanese says.

“Investors will not contribute because the economic risks are simply too great. The costs are higher and rising. And the cost of alternatives like renewables is lower and falling.

“Everyone in the electricity sector knows that the only way a new coal power plant will be built in Australia is through significant taxpayer subsidies, including a carbon risk indemnity that the Australian Industry Group estimates would cost up to $17 billion for a single plant.

“That’s why one hasn’t been opened since 2007, construction hasn’t begun on one since 2004 and tenders haven’t been called this century,” Albanese says.

Meanwhile the terms of reference for the bushfire royal commission, released by Morrison on Thursday steer away from the issue of emissions reduction.

They acknowledge “the changing global climate carries risks for the Australian environment and Australia’s ability to prevent, mitigate and respond to bushfires”. But the inquiry is to report on

  • improving coordination across all levels of government in managing natural disasters
  • improving preparedness, resilience, and response in dealing with natural disasters
  • whether changes are needed to Australia’s legal framework for the involvement of the Commonwealth in responding to national emergencies.
  • The Conversation

    Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

    We can be a carbon-neutral nation by 2050, if we just get on with it


    Anna Skarbek, Monash University and Anna Malos, ClimateWorks Australia

    This is part of a major series called Advancing Australia, in which leading academics examine the key issues facing Australia in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election and beyond. Read the other pieces in the series here.


    Strong action on climate change is vital if Australia is to thrive in the future. Lack of consensus on climate policy over the past two decades has cost us dearly. It has harmed our natural environment, our international reputation and our economic prospects in a future low-carbon world.

    The next two years will be crucial if Australia is to meet its commitment, along with the rest of the world, to limit greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst ravages of global warming.

    In 2015, nearly all nations signed the Paris climate agreement. They pledged to limit global warming to well below 2℃ and to reach net zero emissions. By our calculations, Australia needs to reach net zero before 2050 to do its part.

    As a first step, Australia has committed to reduce its total emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. Under the Paris Agreement it will have to submit progressively stronger targets every five years. Unfortunately, Australia is not yet on track to meet even its comparatively modest 2030 goal.




    Read more:
    Australia is not on track to reach 2030 Paris target (but the potential is there)


    Falling short

    Analysis by ClimateWorks Australia found that although Australia’s emissions have fallen by around 11% economy-wide since 2005, emissions have been steadily climbing again since 2013. In 2013 Australia emitted the equivalent of 520 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. By 2016 that had bounced back up to 533 million tonnes.

    While some parts of the economy cut emissions at certain times, no sector improved consistently at the rate needed to hit the overall 2030 target.

    Emissions are still above 2005 levels in the building, industrial and transport sectors, and only 3% below in the electricity sector, based on 2016 figures, the latest available. The overall fall was mainly delivered by the land sector, thanks to a combination of reduced land clearing and increased forestation. Increased energy efficiency and the growth of renewable energy also made modest contributions.

    Unfortunately, progress in reducing emissions has now stalled in most sectors and reversed overall.

    How fast should we be cutting emissions?

    We calculate that Australia needs to double its emissions reduction progress to deliver on the 2030 target. We will have to triple it to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

    Hitting net zero by 2050 means going much further than the Coalition government’s 2030 target of 26-28%, or the 45% proposed by federal Labor. Australia would need to cut total emissions by 55% below 2005 levels by 2030 (the middle of the range recommended by the Climate Change Authority) to get there without undue economic disruption.

    Fortunately, there are enough opportunities for further emission reductions in all sectors to meet our Paris targets. We can probably do better than that, given the falling costs of many key technologies.

    The gap to the 2030 target could be more than covered by further activity in the land sector alone, or by the electricity sector alone, or by the combined potential of the building, industrial and transport sectors. Emission reductions from energy efficiency – through better buildings, vehicles and white goods – can even save money in the long term.

    Clearly, not all sectors have the same potential to reduce emissions based on current technological progress, but all have significant room for improvement.

    We calculated that:

    • the electricity sector was on track to cut its emissions by 21% by 2030, but could cut them by nearly 70%
    • transport sector emissions are set to be 29% above 2005 levels by 2030, but with projected technology improvements could be 4% below
    • the land sector is set to hit 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, but with more support for planting could be 103% below – well into “negative emissions” territory. The land sector would then be sucking up carbon and making up for emissions from other sectors.

    How do we get there?

    To ensure a smooth, cost-effective transition to a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050, some sectors will need to do more sooner, to avoid putting too much onus on other sectors where emissions savings are harder and more expensive.

    This will require major upgrades to Australia’s current policy settings. Since 2013 Australia’s efforts to cut emissions have focused largely on the land sector via the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) and the electricity sector through the Renewable Energy Target. With the ERF due to run out of funds soon and no clear energy policy even as our ageing power stations shut down, policy certainty is urgently needed in both these areas to encourage investors.




    Read more:
    Australia can stop greenhouse gas emissions by 2050: here’s how


    Renewable energy is powering ahead and starting to tap into Australia’s huge potential in clean energy resources. However, ongoing policy support is needed to ensure our energy remains affordable and reliable through the transition.

    Despite the importance of the electricity and land sectors, we need emission reductions throughout the economy. Fortunately, there is plenty that Australia can do to cut emissions further, in many different ways:

    • in the land sector through revegetation and forestation
    • in electricity by increasing renewables and phasing out coal
    • in industry by bolstering energy efficiency, fuel switching and reducing non-energy emissions
    • in transport by introducing vehicle emission standards and shifting to electric vehicles and low-carbon fuels
    • in construction by increasing standards for buildings and appliances.

    With well-targeted policies across all sectors of the economy, we can get back on track and meet our Paris targets.

    Australia’s states and businesses are recognising how much they can and should do. For instance, 80% of Australia’s emissions are in states and territories with goals to reach net zero emissions by 2050, while many large companies and universities are pledging to be carbon-neutral or use 100% renewable energy.

    There is more than enough opportunity, but we have to act now.The Conversation

    Anna Skarbek, CEO at ClimateWorks Australia, Monash University and Anna Malos, Project Manager, climate and energy policy, ClimateWorks Australia

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

    Farming in 2050: storing carbon could help meet Australia’s climate goals


    Brett Anthony Bryan, CSIRO

    Australia’s agricultural lands help to feed about 60 million people worldwide, and also support tens of thousands of farmers as well as rural communities and industries.

    But a growing global population with a growing appetite is placing increasing demands on our agricultural land. At the same time, the climate is warming and in many places getting drier too.

    Agriculture, and particularly livestock, is currently a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. But new markets and incentives could make storing carbon or producing energy from land more profitable than farming, and turn our agricultural land into a carbon sink.

    How might these competing forces play out in changing Australian land use? Our research, published in Global Environmental Change, assesses a range of potential pathways for Australia’s agricultural land as part of CSIRO’s National Outlook.

    Changing landscapes

    The only constant in landscapes is change. Ecosystems are always changing in response to natural drivers such as fire and flood.

    Humans have complicated things. Indigenous Australians manipulated the Australian landscape and climate through burning for millennia, sustaining a population of around 750,000 and underpinning a culture.

    European colonisation brought a different and more pervasive change, clearing land, building cities, damming rivers and establishing an increasingly mechanised and industrialised agriculture.

    These iconic but changed landscapes inspired the romantic art of Arthur Streeton and poetry of Banjo Paterson among many others — and helped forge a young nation’s identity.

    ‘Still glides the stream, and shall for ever glide’, 1890. Arthur Streeton. The Art Gallery of NSW describes the painting as ‘an idealised vision of the Yarra River at Heidelberg, with the Doncaster Tower in the middle distance and the Dandenong Ranges beyond’.

    Change can happen surprisingly quickly. Often before we know it we’ve gone too far and need to scramble for fixes that are so often costly, slow and ultimately inadequate.

    For example, in South Australia, researchers in the early 1960s raised the alarm that the feverish post-war period of soldier resettlement, land clearance and agricultural development threatened entire native plant and animal communities with extinction. The government’s response over the following 30 years was to expand greatly the conservation reserve network and eventually prohibit land clearing.

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=zXUWIAKxCpHk.kLpt_wSpBC7U

    History repeating?

    Agricultural lands produce a range of goods and services. But in many places the focus on agricultural productivity has come at the expense of ecosystems. Biodiversity, soil and water are all on downward trends.

    Is the balance right? Opinion varies. Many would say no, and consider the status quo to be stacked strongly against the environment.

    Others see agriculture as entering a boom time, driven by growing population and rising food prices. Substantial interest from overseas investors in Australian agricultural land reflects this opportunity.

    Parts of Australia’s agricultural land continue to change fast. Lessons hard-learned by South Australia seem to have been forgotten. Rates of land clearance in Queensland are rising again since 2010 after a long-term trend of decline.

    In the 1990s, new financial incentives led to the planting of over 1 million hectares of forest in southern Australia. Now a failed business model, many of these plantations are being returned to agriculture.

    Demand for more secure sources of energy has generated rapid expansion of coal seam gas and wind power generation, and the development of northern Australia remains a bipartisan priority.

    Worldwide, Australia is not alone — many international examples also exist of recent, massive, rapid and accelerating changes in how land is used.

    Australia has historically taken a hands-off approach to managing land use change, instead focusing on increasing the productivity and competitiveness of agriculture. Apart from a handful of planning and environmental regulations, the use of land has been subject to minimal governance or strategic direction.

    Where to from here?

    What is it that Australians really want from our land? We know what we don’t want: wall-to-wall crops, pasture, buildings, gas wells, mines, wind farms or trees.

    We can expect healthy debate around the margins, but, in general, diversity, productivity and sustainability seem to be widely valued. Most of us want to leave the place in decent condition for future generations.

    Europe has had this conversation and knows what it wants from its landscapes — and it’s not afraid to pay for it (for instance, through agricultural subsidies). A deep aesthetic and cultural heritage is the central objective, with a balance of recreation opportunities, tourism, a clean and healthy environment and high-quality produce all being high priorities.

    Once we know what we want, we can work out how to get there.

    That’s where science can help. We now have the ability to project changes in land use in response to policy and global change, and the environmental and economic consequences.

    CSIRO’s recent National Outlook mapped Australia’s potential future pathways. A companion paper in Nature found that it is possible to achieve strong economic growth and reduce environmental pressure, if we put the right policies in place now. It provides a glimpse of how our rural lands might respond to coalescing future change pressures.

    Farming carbon

    In our modelling, carbon sequestration in the land sector plays a key role of Australia’s future. Land systems can help with the heavy lifting required to hold global warming to 2℃ as recently agreed in Paris.

    There are several factors that could drive this change, including climate, carbon pricing, global food demand and energy prices.

    We modelled the economic potential for land use change and its impacts in over 600 scenarios (full data available here), combining a suite of global outlooks and national policy options.

    A carbon price, which enables landholders to make money from storing carbon in trees and soils (often much more money than from farming), may increase pressure to shift farmland to restored forests.

    Who knows? A pay rise while watching trees grow could be an attractive proposition for our ageing farmers. Complementary biodiversity payments could also help arrest declines in wildlife and help it adapt to climate change.

    If we redouble our focus on productivity, by 2050 agriculture will produce more than today, even as farmland contracts. The least productive areas are less able to compete with reforestation and other new land uses, leaving the most efficient agricultural land in production.

    But trade-offs are likely. Trees use a lot more water than crops and pasture, so we will need to think carefully about managing water resources.

    Economic potential for land use change and sustainability impacts from 2013 to 2050 under national global environmental and economic conditions consistent with 2℃ warming by 2100

    Australians care about their land and are more aware than ever about what is happening to it. While we can have some control over the future of our land, and we do exercise this control in certain circumstances (such as urban planning), our long-term approach to rural land has been to let environmental and economic forces play out and let the invisible hand of economics determine what will be.

    Given the pace at which change can happen, a smarter approach will be to start the conversation, work out what it is we want from our land, and put the policies and institutions in place to get us there.

    The Conversation

    Brett Anthony Bryan, Principal Research Scientist, Environmental-economic integration, CSIRO

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    Shorten says Australia should have net zero emissions by 2050


    Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

    Labor will commit to the goal of Australia achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and embrace the ambitious target of cutting emissions by 45% on 2005 levels by 2030.

    Unveiling the opposition’s policy positions ahead of next week’s international climate conference, Bill Shorten on Friday will condemn the 2030 target the government is taking to Paris as “pathetic”.

    He will say that within its first year a Labor government, guided by its 2030 and 2050 goals, will announce an emissions reduction target for 2025.

    Australia’s pledge for Paris is to reduce emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030.

    The latest announcement further sharply differentiates Labor’s climate stand from the Coalition’s. It has already committed itself to an emissions trading scheme. The 2030 target will be a test for it with the business community.

    Shorten says that achieving net zero emissions by 2050 is an ambitious goal. “This means by 2050, every tonne of pollution we produce will need to be balanced by sequestration, offsetting or purchasing.”

    It “will demand major technological transitions in a range of industries”.

    But changing technology, modernising fuels and embracing clean energy does not mean trading away prosperity, he says in his address for the Lowy Institute.

    He points to ClimateWorks modelling based on net zero emissions by 2050 that forecasts the Australian economy would still be 150% larger than now. “With the right plan and the right approach, Australia can lower emissions and lift economic growth. We can cut pollution and create jobs,” Shorten says.

    He says achieving net zero emissions would require embracing everything from switching transport, industry and buildings to biofuels, gas and carbon-free electricity to reducing agricultural emissions through better land management, farming practices and increased carbon forestry.

    Labor will use the Climate Change Authority’s recommendation of a 45% reduction in emissions by 2030 on 2005 levels as the basis for its consultations with industry, employers, unions and the community.

    “We will undertake this process mindful of the consequences for jobs, for regions and for any impacts on households.

    “Our target will work in concert with our 2050 objective, and our strategies for managing transitions within particular sectors.”

    Environment spokesman Mark Butler will lead the consultations, starting immediately, and report back by March.

    “A 45% baseline reduction would be an ambitious target for Australia, particularly on a per capital basis,” Shorten says.

    “But we should not shy away from ambition.”

    The government’s own modelling found that the economic impact of a 45% target would be minimal.

    Labor would support a pledge and review process every five years, to help Australia track its commitments and respond to international action.

    Malcolm Turnbull will attend the start of the Paris conference on Monday. Shorten is also going to Paris.

    In a swingeing attack on Turnbull, Shorten says Turnbull “is flying to Paris carrying Tony Abbott’s climate sceptic baggage.

    “The prime minister will walk onto the aerobridge with a pathetic target in one hand and an expensive joke of a climate policy in the other.”

    “The Abbott-Turnbull 2030 target puts Australia at the back of the international pack. It falls well short of Australia’s obligation to help keep warming below 2 degrees on pre-industrial levels,” Shorten says.

    “Under Direct Action, it is taxpayers, not polluters, who pay to reduce emissions at a signifiant cost to the budget.”

    Shorten says no-one had delivered a more incisive critique of Direct Action than Turnbull who labelled it “an environmental fig leaf to cover a determination to do nothing”.

    “He had the courage to tell the truth when he was a backbencher, with nothing to lose. Yet now, when power is in his grasp and the evidence is in front of his eyes. He cannot admit what he knows in his heart and head to be true.”

    Despite the government’s “accounting chicanery” Australia’s emissions are going up not down, Shorten says.

    https://www.podbean.com/media/player/5amby-5a834b?from=yiiadmin

    https://www.podbean.com/media/player/hqks7-5a81fd?from=yiiadmin

    The Conversation

    Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    Australia can stop greenhouse gas emissions by 2050: here's how


    Anna Skarbek, Monash University

    To avoid dangerous climate change there is a finite amount of greenhouse gas emissions, in particular CO2, that we can add to the atmosphere – our global carbon budget. If we use our budget wisely, we have until about 2050 to transition to zero net emissions. But how do we get there?

    For Australia to play its role, we’ll also need to get to zero net emissions by 2050. In a recently launched website from ClimateWorks, we’ve created an online tool to demonstrate that there are various ways to get there. You can create your own way of getting to zero net emissions by 2050.

    Internationally the world has agreed to limit warming to 2C. To keep under this limit, globally we can emit around 1,700 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases (measured in CO2-equivalent) between 2000 and 2050. This would give us a 67% chance of limiting warming to 2C or less.

    Just over a third of this budget was already used up between 2000 and 2012, leaving approximately 1,100 billion tonnes – this is the remaining global carbon budget.

    Global emissions are currently projected to rise without further actions, putting us on a pathway to exceed this carbon budget and experience temperature rises of 4C or more.

    Australia’s carbon budget

    The Climate Change Authority has calculated Australia’s equitable share of the global carbon budget as 10.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for the period 2013 to 2050. If we continue to emit at our current rate, we will exceed our carbon budget by 2028 – that’s just 13 years from now.

    If we are to live within our carbon budget, we must begin to reduce emissions now. This will allow us to use our remaining budget over a longer period of time and enable a smoother transition to a low carbon Australia. If we delay, the transition will need to be faster, meaning more cost and more disruption.

    The following infographic produced by ClimateWorks shows the latest science behind the carbon budget.


    ClimateWorks Australia

    Balancing our carbon budget

    The good news is Australia can balance its carbon budget. Research by ClimateWorks and Australian National University has found that Australia can achieve zero net emissions by 2050 and live within its recommended carbon budget, using technologies that exist today, while still growing the economy.

    This pathway relies on four “pillars” of action:

    • Ambitious energy efficiency in buildings, industry and transport

    • Low carbon electricity, either through 100% renewables or a mix of renewables and other technologies

    • Electrification where possible of transport and energy-using equipment in buildings and industry where possible, and elsewhere switching to low carbon fuels

    • Reducing non-energy emissions through improvements in industrial processes and agricultural practices, and offsetting residual emissions through carbon forestry.

    Choose your own pathway

    This research is explained in our interactive 2050 Pathways website.

    Australia is fortunate to have an abundance of energy and natural resources, providing us with a diversity of choice in reducing our emissions. This means that there are many ways Australia could balance its carbon budget.

    The online 2050 Pathways Calculator allows users to create their own pathways to net zero emissions by 2050, staying within our carbon budget.

    The levels of activity in each area of abatement can be changed from level one (business-as-usual) to level four (maximum reasonably feasible). Users can change the extent to which each emissions reduction opportunity is pursued and see the impact on demand for energy, on energy supply and on greenhouse gas emissions.

    On business-as-usual, we’d blow the carbon budget by 2028.
    ClimateWorks

    As would be expected, increasing the level of effort in some of the opportunities decreases the effort required from other areas of action to stay within the carbon budget.

    For example, maximum effort in energy efficiency could enable less reliance on emerging technologies such as geothermal, wave and tidal energy production, or a slower shift away from coal.

    Or, if technologies such as batteries or biofuels improved faster than expected, less effort would be required in other areas.

    Increasing nuclear in the energy system could help meet the carbon budget.
    ClimateWorks

    The calculator can help users to understand the limitations, trade-offs and inter-dependencies involved in meeting our carbon budget.

    Global action

    In Paris later this year, more than 190 countries including Australia will meet to confirm their commitment to reducing emissions at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

    Some countries have already announced their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to emissions reductions.

    The European Union has pledged a 40% reduction in domestic emissions by 2030 and the United States has announced a 25-28% reduction by 2025. China has pledged to reduce the emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% by 2030.

    Many global businesses are taking the lead through co-ordinated business groupings such as RE100 and We Mean Business.

    A few examples:

    • Ikea plans to use 100% renewable energy by 2020, and has 1 billion Euros to tackle climate change, including investing in 700,000 solar panels and 314 wind turbines

    • Google has established agreements to fund over $2 billion in renewable energy projects

    • 100% of Apple’s US operations are powered by renewable energy, with plans to roll this out globally

    • Mars is building a wind farm in Texas that will create enough electricity to power half of all of Mars’ US operations.

    Australia’s contribution to balance its share will be reviewed internationally by our allies and trading partners.

    An article recently published by the Lowy Institute argued that failure to engage constructively with international climate change negotiations could affect our ability to achieve our national interests in our relations with other countries.

    The consequences of not addressing climate change will also be felt at home. Exceeding 2C warming will have serious consequences for our health, agriculture, water supply, natural landscape and lead to an increase in extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and bushfires.

    Like our national budget, failing to balance our carbon budget will be felt well beyond the current fiscal cycle and would place an unreasonable burden on future generations. The good news is that this is a budget we know we can balance, if we get started now.

    The Conversation

    Anna Skarbek is CEO at ClimateWorks Australia at Monash University.

    This article was originally published on The Conversation.
    Read the original article.

    Earth 2050: What the Future May Be Like


    The link below is to an article on what the world may be like in the year 2050.

    For more visit:
    http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2012/03/hot-crowded-and-running-out-of-fuel-earth-of-2050-a-scary-place.ars

    Denmark: 100% Renewable Energy Goal by 2050


    The link below is to an article on how Denmark is attempting to have a green energy future.

    For more visit:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/26/wind-energy-denmark