Australia to fail on Paris commitments without massive renewable switch

Australia will fall short of its Paris carbon reduction targets signed under Tony Abbott unless it lifts its renewable energy production to levels higher even than Labor’s plan for 50 per cent green energy reliance by 2030.

The first assessment by the Australia Institute’s new Climate and Energy Program, to be released on Monday, has found that unless a higher burden is placed on the more expensive process of carbon reductions in other sectors – agriculture, transport and manufacturing – then the electricity generation sector will need to aim for a renewable energy target of at least 66 per cent by 2030, and possibly as high as 75 per cent.

That is, a power generation sector where the fossil fuel component is reduced to perhaps a quarter of the size it is now.

Power generation currently accounts for 35 per cent of total emissions, which is twice as much as the next biggest contributor, fuel combustion and transport, at 18 per cent. 

Industry produces 14 per cent and agriculture 13 per cent.

The current emissions reduction target, committed to in Paris while Mr Abbott was prime minister, is 26-28 per cent lower than the 2005 level – part of Australia’s  contribution to a global effort to restrict the planet’s temperature increase this century to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.

The government is now wrestling with how to go about this after  Chief Scientist Alan Finkel proposed a clean energy target which would lock in a 28 per cent reduction in energy-related emissions by 2030 through a four-pronged strategy emphasising energy security, reliability, affordability for households and business, and meeting Australia’s emissions targets.

Last week Mr Abbott indicated he would cross the floor in Parliament to stop…

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