Australia will not meet the target set under the Paris Climate Agreement unless urgent steps are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

IBISWorld senior industry analyst, Jason Aravanis, said Australia needs to implement policies that will reduce emissions by at least 850 million tonnes between 2021 and 2030.

“To reach the target set out by the Paris Agreement, Australia must produce less than 4,800 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions between 2021 and 2030,” he said.

“However, IBISWorld expects that Australia will produce close to 5,650 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions during this period.”

Aravanis said the National Energy Guarantee's (NEGs) own modelling states it will only reduce emissions by 44 million tonnes, or 5% of the economy-wide requirement.

“As electricity emissions account for 31% of total emissions from the economy, the Turnbull government’s policies implicitly assume that other sectors will cut emissions at a far greater rate than previously required,” he said.
“Cutting emissions from other sectors, such as agriculture, mining, or manufacturing is far more expensive and is likely to be both politically and practically difficult. Should this obligation be foisted upon operators in these sectors, it could significantly increase costs in industries such as beef cattle farming, iron ore mining, and iron and steel forging among many others.”

The pre-exiting Renewable Energy Target (RET) is set to reduce emissions by 24% from 2005 levels by 2021.

“The NEG target of reducing emissions by 26% by 2030 suggests that the government expects the NEG to cause hardly any additional reduction in emissions from 2021 to 2030,” Aravanis said.

At the same time Professor Will Steffen of the ANU's Climate Change Institute, has warned not enough is being done to combat climate change with a new study showing the world is close to a tipping point.

The scientific study says more needs to be done to ensure the Paris Climate Agreement can deliver on its promise to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius.

Even if carbon emission targets under the Paris Climate Agreement are met, there is still a serious risk of Earth entering what scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions.

A new study published by an international team of scientists in one of the world's most cited journals – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencies (PNAS) – warns that keeping global warming to within 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius may be more difficult than previously assessed.

A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the study said.

Authors of the study, which was published this week, call for urgent action to accelerate the transition to an emission-free world economy.

"Human emissions of greenhouse gas are not the sole determinant of temperature on Earth. Our study suggests that human-induced global warming of 2°C may trigger other Earth system processes, often called “feedbacks”, that can drive further warming - even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases," according to the lead author Will Steffen from the Australian National University and Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Feedbacks referenced in the study include: loss of methane hydrates from the ocean floor, weakening land and ocean carbon sinks, increasing bacterial respiration in the oceans, Amazon rainforest dieback, loss of Arctic summer sea ice, and reduction of Antarctic sea ice and polar ice sheets.

Currently, global average temperatures are just over 1°C above pre-industrial and rising at 0.17°C per decade.

The authors of the study consider a total of 10 natural feedback processes, some of which are “tipping elements” that lead to abrupt change if a critical threshold is crossed.

These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes making some places on Earth uninhabitable if “Hothouse Earth” becomes a reality.

If a cascade of events occur it could tip the entire Earth system into a new mode of operation.

Maximizing the chances of avoiding a “Hothouse Earth” requires not only reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions but also enhancement and/or creation of new biological carbon stores, for example, through improved forest, agricultural and soil management; biodiversity conservation; and technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground, the study said.



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