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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 6040

Climate Change

(Question No. 285)

Dr Jensen asked the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, in writing, on 21 March 2011:

Using the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenario (A1F1—business as usual), with the exception of Australia being the only country to act on emissions (resulting in a 50 per cent reduction in CO2 by 2050 which is sustained to 2100), (a) how much lower are global average temperatures estimated to be by 2100 than if Australia had not acted, and (b) what is this abatement expected to cost Australia annually.

Mr Combet: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency advises that:

No modelling simulation has been done that would provide answers to the honourable member’s questions.

Almost without exception, the major emitting countries of the world are beginning to take measures to reduce their emissions from business as usual, so the question refers to a hypothetical scenario that will never happen. Modelling has therefore not been undertaken to establish the impact of such a scenario on global temperatures or its cost to Australia.

Some 89 countries, that together account for more than 80 per cent of global emissions and more than 90 per cent of the global economy, have pledged to reduce or limit their emissions by 2020 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Key economies already have substantial policies in place restraining emissions or emissions growth. Emissions trading schemes (ETS) already operate in 31 European countries and New Zealand, and in 10 United States (US) states. California will commence their ETS in January 2012.

The US is committed to achieving its target to reduce its emissions by 17 per cent by 2020 (on 2005 levels). As part of this effort, from January 2011, the US is regulating large stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions to incentivise the uptake of advanced technology and reduce emissions.

China’s Five-Year Plan for 2011-2015 includes targets to reduce its energy and carbon intensity including through introduction of emissions trading in several major provinces and cities. China is leading the world in the production and installation of a range of renewable and green technologies. In 2009, China added 37 gigawatts of renewable power capacity, more than any other country in the world.

In India, a tax on coal took effect last July. Expected revenue of over half a billion dollars annually will be used to fund research into clean energy technologies.

Emission reductions by Australia, or any other single country, would have only a limited impact on the expected average global temperature: only collective action by a majority of the world’s major emitting countries can have a significant impact on this.