Why do emissions reduction targets matter?

07.08.15 By

 

 

There’s a lot of talk about emissions reduction targets at the moment. And with Australia’s target set to be announced soon, we thought it’d be a good time to explain why they’re so important.

Climate change is a worldwide problem and requires all countries to be part of the solution. This is why 195 countries (including Australia) have agreed to limit global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Australia is the 13th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world – bigger than 182 other countries! – and we’re also one of the highest polluters per person. So we’re an important global player.

Australia’s trading partners and allies have now stepped up their action on climate change. To bring Australian action in line with the world, the Climate Change Authority (CCA) recommends that Australia reduces emissions by 40-60% by 2030 on 2000 levels (or 45 to 65% below 2005 levels). However, it’s important to note that the CCA’s recommendations are based on a two-thirds chance of avoiding 2°C warming. For a stronger chance, the target should really be higher.

Emissions reduction targets are important because they show how individual countries aim to tackle climate change. And, by combining all of the countries emissions reduction targets, we can get a more complete picture of how the world is (or isn’t) tracking towards reaching the goal of limiting global warming to 2°C.

We’re already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate with less than a 1°C rise in average surface temperature since 1910. So, you can see why it’s in Australia’s national interest to set strong emissions reduction targets.