The Turnbull government’s review of climate change policies has confirmed Australia is on track to reduce emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels as part of the Paris agreement, but faces a tough task reaching its goal of a 26-28 per cent reduction by 2030.
The review, released on Tuesday, outlines Australia’s international and national efforts to address climate change, including contributions to several major projects and initiatives, research and collaboration with global partners and the integration of climate change action through overseas aid.
But the review also acknowledged policy improvements are needed to keep up with technological changes, and the rest of the world.
Six expected policy changes are: 1) Introduce a ‘review and refine’ cycle
Australia must update emission reduction targets every five years under the Paris Agreement. A ‘review and refine’ cycle will be introduced, allowing policy and goals to be considered and renewed as each yearly update is complete. 2) Examine electricity generation
Consultation with stakeholders over the so-called National Energy Guarantee will begin early in 2018, with the COAG energy council using feedback to consider the best design and implementation methods to reach emission reductions. The scheme requires energy retailers and big polluters to commit to a reliability guarantee, which is expected to commence from 2019, and an emissions guarantee, which is due in 2020. 3) Change the Safeguard Mechanism
The Safeguard Mechanism allows the biggest business polluters to measure, report and manage their emissions, with the Clean Energy Regular setting the baseline often off historical data.The government will move to keep baselines up to date and reflective of “individual business circumstances” with changes due to take effect for the 2018-19 financial year. 4) Trade international units
The government will allow companies to offset their carbon emissions by buying international permits subject to a global system being finalised after 2020. Former prime minister Tony Abbott has been a strong critic of such a policy in the past. 5) Review the transport sector
Measures to support a low-carbon transport sector have been considered, including a potential fuel efficiency standard for cars. This could save motorists $237 to $519 per year in 2025 for fuel, and net benefits to the economy could range from $8 billion to $13.9 billion over 20 years. 6) Plan a long-term climate change strategy
The government will consult the public and experts to develop long-term goals for emission reduction to be completed by 2020.The Grattan Institute’s energy expert Tony Wood said this was the “most noteworthy” part of the review.
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