You may have had heard Scott Morrison on television or radio saying Australia has reduced its total emissions by 20 per cent from the year 2005.
He is correct in saying this, but whether 20 per cent is sufficient, and whether his government could even take credit for it, are debatable.
Firstly, the reduction refers to total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While there has been a reduction in the electricity sector emissions, there have been significant rises in transport, industrial, stationary energy, and "fugitive" (leaked gas) sector emissions since 2005.
Morrison's claims relied on the difficult-to-measure "land use, land-use change, and forestry" sector emissions which are now counted as negative, drawing down carbon.
So far, it appears we have been riding on the back of agriculture and forestry.
Secondly, although the 20 per cent net reduction has occurred since 2005, only 8 per cent has occurred since the Rudd-Gillard carbon tax was repealed in July 2014.
The precise reduction until the end of June 2021 was 20.4 per cent which supports Morrison's claim.
However the 2005 EOFY baseline was increased from 615.5 Mt in 2020 to 626.5 Mt in 2021, due to recalculation by the responsible government department.
If that baseline had remained unchanged, the reduction in emissions would have been 18.9 per cent instead of the 20.4 per cent (up to June 2021).
Since we are now 35 per cent between 2005 and 2050, you'd expect we'd have made at least an equivalent reduction in emissions.
In fact, we ought to have done much better since we've benefited from the cheapest solutions available.
That leaves a more difficult and expensive burden for the next generation.
According to the government's June 2020 quarterly review, achieving net zero by 2050 would mean reducing emissions by at least 17.0 Mt CO2 equivalent every year.
However, a year later, emissions had only reduced by 2.1 per cent - a long way short of the required reductions of 3.4 per cent or better.
This means that the rate of emissions reduction needed has gone up from 17.0 to 17.2 Mt CO2 equivalent per year.
In other words, the emission reductions are not on track to achieve net zero by 2050. It clearly shows that recent policies have been ineffective and need an overhaul.
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