CLIMATE SPECTATOR: Australia can lead on climate

Australia is not irrelevant to global climate change efforts, with our combined coal and gas export emissions projected to more than double between now and 2030. We are a big hitter and can play a part in the solution.

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In other words, the UN negotiations will not result in global peak emissions within the 'critical decade'. 'It is clear', note the editors of the world's preeminent scientific journal, Nature, 'that the science of climate change and the politics of climate change, now inhabit parallel worlds'.

Australia, too, is operating in a parallel world. Having introduced a carbon price that it claims will usher in a 'Clean Energy Future', the Labor government, along with Liberal/National governments in the resource-rich Australian states, is aggressively supporting a massive program of investment in new coal mines, coal seam gas wells, pipes and ports. These projects will see Australia export a staggering amount of highly emissions-intensive coal and gas during and well beyond the critical decade.

Based on analysis by the Federal Government's resource economics bureau, Australia's combined coal and gas export emissions (which are already twice Australia's 'domestic' emissions) are projected to more than double between now and 2030.

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In 2030, Australia's combined (domestic and export) emissions from fossil fuels (2.2 gigatonnnes) would equate to 11 per cent of the world's two degree carbon budget in that year (20 gigatonnes – see first graph above).

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