Australia’s Climate Change Target Weakens
21 April 2016 at 11:04 am
Australia will export one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from coal this year, according to Greenpeace Australia Pacific, and will erase its already “weak” Paris Agreement target and worsen its contribution to global climate change.
The Greenpeace briefing, Exporting Climate Change, Killing the Reef, found that Australia would export more carbon dioxide than it plans to save domestically between 2020 and 2030.
“If its coal exports grow by over 60 per cent, as the Australian Government projects, the resulting increase in carbon emissions will erase the benefit of Australia meeting its Paris target nearly seven times over,” the report said.
The briefing comes as Australia prepares to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change at the end of the week.
“The Australian Government wants us to believe it is proactive about climate change, but in reality it’s sending its emissions overseas through its coal exports,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s climate and reef campaigner Shani Tager said.
“Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter and is avoiding responsibility for its contribution to global carbon emissions. By doing so, the Australian Government is ignoring the most serious threat to the reef – climate change.”
Greenpeace said Australia’s World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef was undergoing its worst coral bleaching in history, and almost the entire reef was experiencing some level of bleaching due to warming waters.
“This isn’t a future threat, it’s one that is playing out right now before our eyes, with coral bleaching on 93 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef, and severe bleaching on the most pristine northern parts,” Tager said.
“The Australian Government cannot say it is safeguarding the health of the reef when it is doing everything it can to avoid tackling the greatest threat it faces, which is coal-driven climate change.”
The briefing showed that, in addition to not reducing domestic CO2 emissions since 1990, coal export volumes had more than tripled in the same period to 400 million tonnes per annum.
Greenpeace said with every Australian tonne of coal emitting an average of 2.5 tonnes of CO2, wherever it is used, the country’s exports through coal have increased by 253 per cent since 1990.
“Australia’s climate change response and its signature on the Paris Agreement simply won’t be credible as long as it sends more carbon emissions abroad than it saves at home, and pushes its coal exports,” Tager said.
“The future of the Great Barrier Reef is at stake. It’s time for the Australian Government to be ratifying the Paris Agreement and speeding up their response to climate change, including a commitment that no new coal mines be dug and for coal exports to be phased out.”