Defining an Australian Carbon Budget


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In order to achieve current climate change goals, Australia needs to use a long-term carbon budget approach to properly assess the risks, responsibilities and realities of doing its fair share.
This presentation summarises The Climate Institute’s policy brief, Operating in Limits: Defining an Australian Carbon Budget. For more information visit

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Defining an Australian Carbon Budget

  1. 1. TheClimateInstitute Defining an Australian Carbon Budget 1
  2. 2. Defining an Australian Carbon Budget April 2013 “Defining Australia‟s fair share of the global carbon budget is a complex task, but it is critical if short-term targets are to be set with clear reference to avoiding dangerous climate change. Australia‟s current high levels of per capita carbon pollution, which have grown at around twice the global average over recent decades, make this particularly challenging.” Erwin Jackson Deputy CEO, The Climate InstituteThis presentation summarises The Climate Institute’s policy brief, Operating in Limits: Defining an Australian CarbonBudget. In order to achieve current climate change goals, Australia needs to use a long-term carbon budget approach toproperly assess the risks, responsibilities and realities of doing its fair share. Images: Michael Hall, Creative Fellow of The Climate Institute 2
  3. 3. Introduction• The Clean Energy Future Act opens Carbon budgets and emission pathways. If total global emissions peak later, reductions around 2050 need to be up the possibility of a scientifically more ambitious. Also, once serious action begins the rate robust ‘carbon budget’ for the nation of change needs to be much steeper if the same• Carbon budgets are important in cumulative emission budget is to be achieved between 2000 and 2050. climate policy: • The magnitude of climate change is not determined by emissions in any given year, but the total level of pollution released over time• The Act sets national interest as avoiding 2 C. Source: M. Schaeffer and W. Hare, How feasible is changing track? Scenario analysis on the implications of changing emission tracks after 2020, from an insufficient global deal on 2020 reductions, to 2 C and 1.5 C pathways, Report commissioned by The Climate Institute (Potsdam, Germany and New York, USA: PIK- PRIMAP team and Climate Analytics, 2009). 3
  4. 4. National Interest Natural systems Water Coastal Agriculture Health Infrastructure2 degree Significant loss of Significant Loss some Reduced Increase Copingworld species, adaptive water coast production extreme capacity capacity shortages developments events adequate (with exceeded (in absence of investment) sea walls)4 degree Massive loss of Dangerous Massive Ability to meet Major risks Seriousworld species water consequence food demand to human exposure to(current shortages, for coastlines, stretched, life, impacts,pathway) adaptive deglaciation of adaptive adaptive adaptive capacity Greenland capacity in capacity in capacity in exceeded serious serious serious doubt doubt doubt Source: Pearman (2009), report for the Treasury 4
  5. 5. Carbon Budgets and the Authority Types of carbon budgets. • The Climate Change Authority’s A number of different types of carbon budgets could be applied in 2013/14 review must: Australia. • recommend a ‘national 600 carbon budget’ • consider the global carbonMillion tonnes of CO2e 500 budget 400 • A carbon budget is not sharply 300 defined in the Act 200 • „the total amount of net 100 Australian emissions of greenhouse gases during a 0 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050 specified period‟ Long-term science Targets and trajectory Short-term 25% pathway 5
  6. 6. What type of carbon budget?Approach Strength WeaknessLong-term + Scientifically robust + Politically more difficult (requires explicitbudget + Transparent and strong link between analysis of equity) defined Australian and global carbon + Coordination between domestic and budgets and goals international actions more difficult + Clearer longer-term investment signal + Uncertainty around technological and market + Clear signal of preparedness to contribute development over long-term to global goalsTargets + + Clearer longer-term investment signal + Only a weak link to global budget/scienceTrajectory + Politically more palatable as equitable + Budgets may be set without explicit reference to contribution to global effort is not climate goals transparently defined or needed + Nearer term budgets creates accountabilitiesShort-term + Provides flexibility in meeting short-term + Little or no direct link to longer-term goals targets + May encourage conservative approaches to + Short-term accountability commitments + Provides no increase in investment certainty 6
  7. 7. Our ProposalProposed national carbon budgetframework.1. Guided by the national interest established in the Act, a global carbon budget is defined.2. A fair 2010-2050 carbon budget for Australia is then developed based on an equitable contribution to the global budget.3. This national budget guides decisions on Australia’s final 2020 target, short- term carbon budget and emission cap on covered sectors. It also influences 2030 and 2050 emission pathways. Short-term accountability is set by the 2020 target, short-term budget and the legal requirements on liable industries under the cap on covered sector emissions. 7
  8. 8. Calculating BudgetsBottom up • 5-25% on 2000 by 2020 to 80% on 2000 by 2050Top down • CO2e budget = 75% chance of avoiding 2 degree C • Cumulative convergence: Global budget x (Australian population/global population in 2010) • Status Quo: Global budget x (Australian emissions/global emissions in 2010) • Ability to pay: Global budget x (Australian income/global income in 2010) • Average: No single measure is adequate so the average is also shown 8
  9. 9. National Carbon BudgetsSummary of indicative 2010–2050 Australian carbon budgets. 16 14 12Gt CO2e: 2010-2050 10 8 15 15 13 6 10 9 4 2 4 0 Government -5 Government -25 Cumul. Per Cap Status quo Ability to pay Average Conv. 9
  10. 10. Are national budgets equitable?Per capita carbon budgets (2010–2050). World, Developed World average and Developing World average comparisonsare reference points. They are based on the convergence of these groups‟ emissions towards the point where the globalbudget consistent with a high chance of avoiding 2 C is achieved. Average emissions per capita globally are around 0.5tonnes per year in 2050.Tonnes CO2e per capita: 2010-2050 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 15 14 14 6 12 10 9 11 4 8 2 4 3 3 4 0 Government -5 Government -25 Ability to pay Average World average World average Cumul. Per Cap Conv. Status quo Australia average OECD average Developed world average Developing world average  10
  11. 11. Changing Track700 Carbon budget accountability and emission pathways.600 Two ‘change track’ scenarios are included.500 One assumes that Australia sets a long-term400 carbon budget consistent with the Government - 25 by 2020 per cent and 80 per cent by 2050300 budget.200 The other assumes a national carbon budget of 8 Gt with Australia’s per capita contribution to100 avoiding a 2oC world not exceeding that of other industrialised countries. 0 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 However, in both cases the emissions pathway to 2020 is set on the basis of the 5 per cent Change track (Delayed 25/80) reduction target. Change track (Delayed 8Gt) A more credible emission pathway is also Credible pathway illustrated which includes a roughly 25 per cent reduction by 2020.  11
  12. 12. RecommendationsAn Australian carbon budget should be:• Consistent with the national interest (as defined by the Act): based on a global budget which has a high probability of avoiding 2 degree C.• Focus on the long-term: Outline an Australia’s carbon budget to 2050 to provide guidance to emission pathway• Hedge against stronger action: Be set to ensure it hedges against the possibility of even more ambitious action in the future.  12
  13. 13. More information Visit Or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest news…  13