Making sense of the Australian government’s data dump: Carbon pollution and climate review

19.12.17 By

Today the Australian government released a range of documents and data including the Quarterly Emissions Update, the 2017 Review of Climate Change Policies and Australia’s Emissions Projections. We read them all, so here’s the lowdown:

Topline Facts:

What is the Government’s 2017 Review of Climate Change?

The Federal Government undertook a review of its national climate change policies and indicated it would release a final report by the end of 2017. The aim of the year-long review was to ensure Australia can meet its 2030 emissions reduction target and Paris Agreement commitments. The Federal Government released the review report today. You can check out the whole document here.

It’s important to note that the Australian Government’s current pollution reduction target is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per-cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This target is out of line with the science and out of line with action being taken by our major trading partners and allies around the world, from global powerhouses such as Europe and California. This target will not do enough to reduce the impacts of climate change that Australia is already experiencing, such as extreme weather events like severe heatwaves, flooding and storms. You can read the Climate Council’s submission to the review here.

What has the Government’s 2017 Review of Climate Change recommended?

Unfortunately, there’s not much new credible policy or information in the Climate Review report released today. You can take a look at the report here.

There’s no new credible policy to cut Australia’s pollution levels, despite emissions rising now for the third year in a row. All while the Climate Review claims that the Federal Government is taking climate action seriously. But when you look at new Federal Government emissions data you see that this is not the case.

What’s happening with Australia’s carbon pollution?

A key way to track how Australia is going in terms of reducing pollution is to look at the Department of the Environment and Energy’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventor (to see if carbon pollution is increasing or decreasing). Unfortunately, the government has been hanging onto this data and has partially released a backlog of emissions data today. Turns out Australia’s emissions are still going up.

How is Australia being affected by climate change?

So why does this all matter? Australia is on the frontline of climate change and its impacts. From sweltering heatwaves that are getting longer and occurring more often, to worsening bushfires, record breaking global heat, coastal flooding and super-charged storms, extreme weather is getting worse and Australians are bearing the brunt of these impacts.

So what do we need to do?

In the absence of credible climate policy from the Federal Government, state and local governments are stepping up and leading the charge, ramping up renewable energy and climate solutions.

It’s time for the Federal Government to catch up. We propose our elected representatives should:

  1. Create a well-defined policy pathway towards a net-zero emissions Australia by the mid-2040s at the latest.
  2. Revitalise the Climate Change Authority, strengthen its climate science capacity, and build policy actions on science-based targets and pathways.
  3. Support and accelerate the many effective actions on climate change that are already being undertaken by major economies around the globe, as well as states, territories and local governments at home.
  4. Transform Australia’s position on the global stage from a laggard to a leader on climate change.

You can read our recommendations and our latest climate science and solutions report in more detail here.