Submission to: Northern Territory’s Climate Change Response

04.11.19 By
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The Climate Council of Australia congratulates the Northern Territory on its desire to step up action on mitigating climate change. A net zero target is a good first step. This is necessary—but not sufficient—to align the Territory Government’s policies with the global goals contained in the Paris Agreement.

Download the full submission here.

The Climate Council recommends the following:

1. The Territory Government should set interim targets enshrined in legislation.
While an aspiration to meet a net zero target in 2050 is better than nothing at all, if the global community is to meet even a 2°C temperature goal—emissions-intensive economies like the Northern Territory must immediately, permanently and drastically reduce its emissions. In 2019, total emissions from the Northern Territory are likely to be higher than more than 80 countries. The Northern Territory’s extraordinarily large contribution of greenhouse gas emissions mean that it must set a rapid trajectory toward zero.

Recent moves to increase conventional and unconventional gas extraction in the Territory is likely to put the aspiration out of reach even before it is formalised. For example, the Inpex project has added 35% to the Northern Territory’s annual emissions and the proponent has its operating life going well beyond 2050. Offsetting is not a scientifically valid approach to manage this problem.

2. These targets should be informed by commissioned, independent expert advice.
The model followed by the Victorian Government, as required by their Climate Change Act, requires the Victorian Government to seek independent expert, science-based advice on setting interim targets. Advice commissioned by the expert panel saw the panel set interim targets set in accordance with the State’s equitable share of the global emissions budget for a given temperature goal.

This submission shows one such pathway for the Northern Territory. The choice of targets should be informed by information that is specific to the Territory. Simply applying a global goal of ‘net zero by 2050’ to the Territory, is not enough. Should the Government choose to align its targets with a high temperature goal, then the future costs of adaptation must be planned for.

3. Climate Change policy requires a truly whole-of-government approach.
An emissions reduction goal that would see the Northern Territory meeting its equitable share a target of even 2°C—let alone well below 2°C or 1.5°C—above pre-industrial temperatures will not happen accidentally. It must be planned for and implemented accordingly. No matter how generous the allocation of the global emissions budget—and in this submission the Territory is assigned a share that is seven-and-a-half times what it would receive if the allocation was based on population alone—deep, immediate and enduring cuts in the NT will be required.

Download the full submission here.
A screenshot of the front page of the submission to the NT's climate change response.