New Victorian interim climate targets welcome but underwhelming

May 3, 2021 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

Victoria Interim Emissions Target – Sydney Road Street Party 2020

Today the Victorian Government announced the interim emissions reduction climate targets for 2025 and 2030. This announcement has been delayed for over a year due to the pandemic.

The targets announced are to reduce emissions by 28-33 per cent by 2025 and 45-50 per cent by 2030.

Awesome you say? 50 percent reduction by 2030, similar to what President Biden announced at the Biden Climate Summit on April 22. Not so fast.

The Independent Expert Panel recommended Victoria set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of:

  • 32-39% below 2005 levels in 2025 and
  • 45-60% below 2005 levels in 2030.

Even this was not consistent with keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees, and the numerous risks enumerated in the IPCC Special Report on Global warming of 1.5C1.

The Combet Review identified emission cuts of at least 43% by 2025 and 67% by 2030 to have any chance of limiting warming to 1. 5°C, yet justified lower targets, even though there is scientific research3 that indicates there are several dangerous tipping points that should require substantial risk minimisation in setting ambitious targets. Read our submission from July 2019.

It seems not even the catastrophic 2019/2020 bushfires could motivate the Victorian government to lift ambition past more than the very bottom rung of what the Combet panel recomended.

But in comparison to the Morrison Federal Government they are setting targets more ambituous than the national 26-28 per cent emissions reduction by 2030.

According to the Premier’s media release the commitment to reduce emissions includes:

“investing more than $100 million to transform our transport sector, offering up to $3,000 for Victorians who buy zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) and a target that 50 per cent of all new car sales in Victoria will be ZEVs by 2030.

“The Labor Government is also investing almost $20 million to reduce emissions in our agriculture sector and work with farmers to make their farms more sustainable. This includes $3.9 million to fund world-leading research and trials of new feed to reduce emissions from livestock. 

“A further $15.3 million for the Victorian Carbon Farming Program will help farmers store more carbon in shelterbelt trees and engage in agroforestry.  

“Government operations, from schools and hospitals to police stations and metro trains, will also be powered with 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025 – an Australian first.”

Convenor of Climate Action Moreland, John Englart, said: “I guess it is a start, but it’s not nearly enough. I am disappointed that the Victorian Labor Government did not commit to higher, more ambitious targets consistent with the science for the 1.5 degree pathway given we have a climate emergency.”

“I am also disappointed with the announcements on reducing transport emissions have focussed almost entirely on transition to Electric Vehicles. This will provide only a partial solution and we also need substantial investment in public transport, walking, cycling and micro-mobility solutions to also drive transport emission reductions.”

The Climate Council report issued on 18 April 2021 – “Aim High, Go Fast: Why Emissions Need to Plummet this Decade” – argued that “Australia’s position as a wealthy country, with one of the highest per capita emission rates, means that to do our fair share, we should do better than the global average in emission reductions. An emissions target for Australia of 75% below 2005 levels by 2030, and reaching net zero emissions by 2035, is consistent with global efforts to limit warming to 1.8°C.” The Climate Council also argues we should be aiming for 100 percent renewables by 2030.

These are the targets we should have got consistent with the science:

Comment from Environment Victoria

Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze said today:

“Coming from the most emissions-intensive economy in the country, Victoria’s new climate targets pile even more pressure on the Morrison government to increase their pathetic target of only 26-28% emissions cuts by 2030.

“By announcing targets of 45-50% by 2030, Victoria has almost matched the recent US pledge of 50-52%, but the science is clear we need to act much faster. Judged against what we need to do to stop the climate crisis, these targets fall far short.

“US Climate Envoy John Kerry himself last week conceded that the US target of 50-52% cuts is not enough, and neither is Victoria’s target.

“The federal Coalition’s decade of sabotage and delay on climate has limited what can be achieved in the next decade here in Victoria, and for that they must be held accountable.

“This has to be the start of a decade in which climate action is an absolute top priority for the Victorian government. Every decision matters.

“The Victorian government must be aiming to smash these targets out of the park. Technology is constantly improving and momentum is constantly building. We can’t look back in 10 years and wish we’d done more. By then, it is too late.

“Based on the latest science, Victoria needed to set emissions reduction targets of 75% by 2030. That’s what was required for Victoria to do our fair share to meet the objectives of the international Paris Agreement on climate change and limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

“Since the government started this process back in 2018, we have consistently called for targets in at least the range 65-80%.

“As the unprecedented drought and bushfires in recent years have shown, Victoria is incredibly vulnerable to climate damage. For the past 20 years, observed temperatures and rainfall in Victoria have already been tracking against the worst climate projections. We have a lot to lose from the climate crisis.

“Victorians are already reaping the economic benefits of the Andrews government’s past climate action – more and more jobs in clean industries like renewable energy.

“We are now 18 months from a state election. If watching federal politics over the last decade has taught us anything, it’s that bipartisanship on climate matters. We call on the Victorian Liberal National party to commit to targets at least this high. We cannot afford the risk of going backwards again.”

Comment by Friends of the Earth

According to Friends of the Earth who campaigned hard for ambitous interim climate targets:

Responses to the climate crisis must be based on the best-available science. The litmus test for climate policy is whether it is consistent with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

The targets that have been announced by the Andrews government fall short of that test:

“We must acknowledge the gap that still exists between the targets that have been announced and what the best-available science tells us is necessary to avoid dangerous climate impacts,” said Friends of the Earth campaigner Leigh Ewbank.

“It’s clear that the Federal government’s refusal to tackle the climate crisis has held back Victoria from adopting a stronger target.”

“The gulf between climate policy and science is shrinking with recent announcements from the United States, United Kingdom and others.”

“Victoria has put its shoulder to the wheel with its climate strategy while the Federal government is sitting on its hands, and we urge both to do more.”

Pressure mounts on Morrison govt to increase climate targets

The Andrews government’s announcement intensifies pressure on the Morrison government to increase national ambition ahead of the critically-important COP26 climate summit in November.

“Victoria’s Emissions Reduction Targets will help Australia tackle the climate crisis while the Morrison government is missing in action,” said Leigh Ewbank.

“Victoria’s climate targets are half what we need, but twice as ambitious as the Morrison government’s commitment.”

“The United States and Victoria will reduce emissions by up to 50 percent by 2030 and it’s time for the Morrison government to match them or beat them.”

Friends of the Earth will continue to work with communities to build the power needed for all levels of government to go further and faster on climate.

In 2020, Friends of the Earth worked with over 1,000 community members to write a People’s Climate Strategy for Victoria. On Friday 4 June, community members will deliver copies to every state and federal MP in Victoria to set out next steps for tackling the climate crisis.

Friends of the Earth would like to acknowledge the late Dr. Penny Whetton’s contribution to the Emissions Reduction Target-setting process.

We need to act high to avoid climate tipping points.

Climate tipping points – Source: Climate Council

Entry filed under: climate change info, Policy, transport, Victorian Government. Tags: , .

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