Australia should phase out all coal-fired power plants by 2035 and implement realistic carbon pricing to avoid severe economic shocks, according to a new Climate Institute report A Switch in Time.
The Climate Institute commissioned economic modelling of different policy options to reduce electricity emissions, in line with the Paris commitment to limit global warming to 1.5-2°C above pre-industrial levels.
Policies were assessed against a ‘carbon budget’ for the electricity sector – the maximum amount of emissions the sector can emit if Australia is to do its fair share in the global effort to limit global warming.
The report found:
- The world cannot limit temperature rise to less than 2°C unless it switches to zero or near-zero emission energy sources.
- Not committing to a consistent decarbonisation plan immediately means that even more extreme measures will need to be taken after 2030, which would cause a sudden and severe impact on the economy.
- The best way forward is a policy that systematically phases out coal power plants before 2035, and minimises the risks that are currently inhibiting clean energy investment.
Looking to the future
The report states that the “concept of net zero emissions is gaining traction,” however it also concludes that “existing climate and energy policies provide no prospect of reaching this goal” in Australia.
For Australia to play its part in achieving the Paris Agreement, it’s clear that we must implement a long-term decarbonisation plan now, that will lead to a nearly net-zero energy emission level by 2050.
You can read the full Climate Institute report here or check out our ‘Unburnable Carbon’ report here.
Image credit: Flickr user Michelle Carl licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0