Australia isn't on track to meet its 2030 emissions target, UN report says

About half of the G20 countries will fall short of their Paris agreement pledges, scientists warn

• Hundreds of students striking over climate change descend on parliament

Australia is not on track to meet its 2030 emissions reduction targets and global greenhouse gas emissions are showing no signs of peaking, a new UN report has warned.

In its annual emissions gap report, which looks at the gap between carbon reduction policies countries have in place and what is required to keep global warming to well below 2C, the UN says global emissions have reached record highs.

It warns that about half of the G20 countries, including Australia, will fall short of meeting their nationally determined contributions under the Paris agreement and, even if they do meet them, they are still not ambitious enough to restrict warming to the levels needed.

“Current commitments expressed in the NDCs are inadequate to bridge the emissions gap in 2030,” the report warns.

“Technically, it is still possible to bridge the gap to ensure global warming stays well below 2C and 1.5C, but if NDC ambitions are not increased before 2030, exceeding the 1.5C goal can no longer be avoided.”

Australia has committed to an emissions reduction target of 26% to 28% on 2005 levels by 2030.


The UN’s report says: “There has been no improvement in Australia’s climate policy since 2017 and emission levels for 2030 are projected to be well above the NDC target.

“The latest projection published by the government shows that emissions would remain at high levels rather than reducing in line with the 2030 target.”

The report finds that annual global emissions have reached a record high of 53.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.

On current policies, it says, annual global emissions would hit 59 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent by 2030. If countries met their unconditional 2030 targets they would hit 56 gigatonnes.

To have a 66% chance of meeting the 2C Paris target, emissions would need to be down to about 40 gigatonnes a year by 2030 and to achieve the more ambitious target of 1.5C they would need to fall to about 24 gigatonnes.

The UN warned that on current trajectories, the world was on track for about 3C of warming by 2100, with warming to continue after that.

In a special report, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the world was nowhere near on track to reach the 1.5C Paris target and that even a half degree more of warming would significantly worsen the risks of droughts, floods and extreme heat for millions of people.

The new emissions gap report says G20 countries including Australia “will need to implement additional policies” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 2.5 gigatonnes a year to achieve their unconditional commitments under the Paris agreement.

Despite the reports findings, Australia’s environment minister, Melissa Price, said on Wednesday the government had “the right mix of scalable policies to meet our 2030 targets”.

“Policies like the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation have led to emissions reductions in the electricity sector, for instance,” she said.

“And they continue to deliver results. Wind and solar generation in the national electricity market is projected to increase by 250% over the next three years.”

Labor’s climate spokesman, Mark Butler, said the report showed the government had been “hopeless” in taking action on climate change.

“It is a slap in the face for Australians that the prime minister, environment minister and energy minister all repeat the lie that Australia will meet our Paris climate targets in a ‘canter’,” he said.

“The government’s own data, and now the UN, show that under Scott Morrison’s hopeless climate change policies, carbon pollution will continue to rise all the way to 2030 – which is as far as the projections go.”


Lisa Cox

The GuardianTramp

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