Morrison’s government climate plan will fail if it relies solely on technology, think tank | Australia news

The Morrison government has been warned that its 2050 CO2 neutrality plan will fail if it relies solely on investing in new technology.

The Grattan Institute’s Towards Net Zero report, released on Monday, has suggested that the Australian government would have to pull many other policy levers to reach net zero, including vehicle emission standards, energy efficiency commitments and rules for the use of carbon credits.

The report’s lead author, Tony Wood, suggested that the Morrison government’s net zero plan, which was announced on Tuesday, did not show how emission reductions would be achieved outside the electricity sector.

Scott Morrison is taking part in the Cop26 climate negotiations in Glasgow from Monday without an increased emission reduction target by 2030, despite international pressure from the UK, EU, US and Pacific Island countries to significantly increase ambitions.

The Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organizations has called on “rich” nations to “move significantly faster to reduce global emissions by 2030” in order to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. They have warned that warming beyond that would be “devastating to our region and some of our Pacific countries would be under the sea”.

It urged developed countries to phase out fossil fuel production, which Australia has opposed at the G20, leading to Cop26.

The Grattan report noted that while Australia was on track to hit its 26 to 28% emission reduction target by 2030, more needs to be done today to reach the 2050 target.

It proposed expanding the Emission Reduction Fund (ERF) and restrictions for large emitters in the protection mechanism, investments in the electricity grid and rules on carbon credits to help build a market for them.

Under the Morrison administration’s plan, $ 20 billion. be spent over the next decade investing in technology, including an additional $ 2 billion. in emission reductions purchased through the ERF.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has suggested that similar investments would be needed for future governments in the coming decades, but declined to designate an overall cost.

But the Grattan report warned that in the medium to long term “such funding from governments will be unsustainable and regulation should have a limited but valuable role”.

“More ambitious emission reduction targets are likely to be required.”

Wood told the Guardian Australia that the Morrison government’s plan “does not bring you towards net zero by 2050”.

“The assumption in Morrison’s mindset… is that all you have to do is spend money on the technology, then it will be cheap enough to be adopted. In some cases it is, but in many cases it is not. ”

Wood cited carbon capture and storage and the use of renewable energy green hydrogen as “cost more” processes, a “green premium” to be paid through a carbon price, either directly or indirectly, such as Australia’s current subsidies.

The Grattan report noted that over the next decade, electricity emissions are expected to fall significantly, but the next four largest emission sources in Australia will either grow or peak.

Wood said that with an estimated price of $ 20 per. tonnes to reduce emissions, it was “by no means known” that the government could extend the subsidies to cut 500 million. tons per year to reach net zero, that is “beyond comprehension”.

“The better way is to get the industry to do it because they want to find cheaper ways to do it than the government wants … I do not have problems with the ERF, but like the technology plan, it is not enough.”

The report argued that the first step should be to stop subsidizing developments that will increase future emissions, citing the Beetaloo Basin and the Carmichael coal mine as two sources that should not be supported by taxpayers’ funds. In addition to investing in technology, the government will also have to actively discourage high-emission technologies and, if necessary, reject them.

Wood said helping these projects is like putting “your foot on the accelerator and your other foot on the brake”, arguing that there is “no reason” to subsidize a “straightforward commercial project” like the Beetaloo Basin gas development.

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The Grattan report called for relaunching the Climate Change Authority with a formal task of advising on emission budgets and tracking progress to net zero.

Ahead of the UN-led climate summit in Glasgow, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who is hosting the gathering, has called on leaders to make serious commitments.

On Saturday, the British government’s climate adviser launched a sharp attack on Australia’s net zero commitment.

The chairman of the climate change committee, Lord Deben, told the BBC that there was “no indication” that Morrison had a plan to live up to the net zero commitment, which was “pushed out of him”.

Australia’s net zero plan has also been criticized by experts, who warn that it relies on a ‘gross manipulation’ of data suggesting that trees and soil can absorb far more carbon dioxide than is actually possible.

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