The most effective and cheapest way for Australia to fulfil the climate promise it made under the Paris Agreement is to ensure that at least 66 per cent of its energy comes from renewable sources by 2030, new research by The Australia Institute has found.
Titled ‘Meeting our Paris Commitment’ and released on Monday, the report by the Canberra-based think tank said that there are two ways that Australia can meet its Paris emissions target. Inked in December 2015, this is the world’s first deal signed by almost all countries on climate change and aims to cap global temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius above 1990 levels.
Australia, under the leadership of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, pledged to reduce emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
To reach this target, Australia can take the “least-cost path” of scaling up renewable energy use significantly by 2030, or drag its feet and later adopt costly solutions to reduce emissions in sectors such as agriculture, transport, and building, noted the report, which is the first major research from the institute’s Climate & Energy Program.
The report singled out the electricity sector for two reasons. First, it accounts for about 35 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, presenting a major opportunity for emissions.
Second, renewable energy presents a readily available and cost-effective option to reduce electricity-related emissions, and there are no similarly affordable options for sectors such as agriculture, construction, and manufacturing, said the report.
Because it is the proverbial “low hanging fruit” for Australia to cut its emissions in accordance with its Paris commitments, the electricity sector must reduce emissions by between 40 and 55 per cent compared to 2005 levels by 2030, the report recommended. To do so, it must scale up the share of renewables in its energy mix to between 66 and 75 per cent—it stands at 13.6 per…