The World Moves Post-2020 While Australia Remains Fixated On 2020

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That I am at loggerheads with the environmental and energy-related policies of the Australian Government is of no surprise to anyone who has spent much time here at CleanTechnica. CC1As an Australian working for a US-based, international-focused website, the ability to comment on Australia’s current politics from an international perspective is incredibly helpful, while simultaneously depressing.

As the image to the side shows, the World Bank currently finds 39 countries as implementing a carbon tax of some sort or another.

Australia would have made that number 40, except Prime Minister Tony Abbott successfully scrapped the country’s carbon tax, making us the first country to have implemented a carbon tax only to then remove it.

Two reports released here in Australia on Monday further pinpoint just how devastating the country’s recent energy and environmental policies have been. Furthermore, they show how backward Australian politics is, fixating so obsessively on 2020 goals while the rest of the world begins to focus on a post-2020 world.

“By just focusing on 2020 emission and renewable energy goals, the recent political debate has ignored growing scientific, investment, and international realities,” said Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute. “This short-term focus is simply a high risk approach to the significant challenges of decarbonising our economy and helping avoid dangerous impacts for Australia.

“Australian politics is fixated on 2020 but the world is now increasingly looking beyond 2020.”

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Moving Beyond 2020

“Much of the recent climate policy debate in Australia has been framed around our 2020 emissions reduction and renewable energy goals,” wrote the authors of a Climate Institute report published Monday, which aims to tackle Australia’s role in a post-2020 international climate.

“While these goals remain a credibility test of Australia’s climate action, they are insufficient for stable economic policy, and are being overtaken by international policy developments and investment realities.”

The new report concluded that scientific, investment, and international realities are repositioning the focus on post-2020 total decarbonisation targets. As a result, Australia must hit a net 2025 emissions reduction target of 40% below 2000 levels as well as begin work on decarbonisation the economy by 2040.

An indicative international process to set targets in the post-2020 framework.


The conclusions are not crazy either, considering that Australia joined over 190 countries to work collectively to avoid 2ºC of warming above pre-industrial levels. In hand with Australia’s decision to join other countries in focusing on post-2020 goals in Warsaw last year, The Climate Institute find that the country’s post-2020 targets should include the following:

  • A short-term commitment to reduce net emissions by 40 per cent on 2000 levels by 2025
  • A medium-term emission pathway of 65-75 per cent reductions on 2000 levels by 2035
  • A long-term goal to decarbonise the economy by between 2040 and 2050

“For any policy to remain stable and effective it needs to be relevant not just for the next five years, but for the next 50 years,” said Jackson. “Failure to deliver a proper plan risks institutionalising investment uncertainty, and a much more rapid – and therefore more disruptive – decarbonisation at a later date.”

Furthermore, according to Jackson, “it also completely avoids the physical, investment, and international realities of climate change and evolving action to address it.”

Investment Realities

The realities of investment in this day and age is that, regardless of your own personal opinions on issues like climate change and energy efficiency, investing in clean energy and similar is a necessity. However, according to a second report released Monday, this time by Tim Flannery, Gerry Hueston, and Andrew Stock of the Australian Climate Council, Australian investment in renewable energy throughout 2014 has dropped a whopping 70% compared with 2013.

Annual large-scale renewable energy investment in Australia 


Unsurprisingly, the authors have subsequently moved Australia, a crucial major climate change player, from “leader to laggard.”

The report made four key findings, which highlight Australia’s failing involvement in the world in which we currently live:

  1. China and the US have firmly moved from laggards to global leaders on climate change.
  2. In the last five years most countries around the world have accelerated action on climate change as the consequences have become more and more clear.
  3. Australia, a crucial player in global climate action, moves from leader to laggard.
  4. Global action must accelerate to protect Australia and the world from the consequences of a changing climate, sea level rise and more frequent and intense extreme weather.

That Australia is falling leagues behind international allies and trading partners is no surprise to many who are watching from the outside in. However, for many Australians, it would arguably be a great surprise to find that we are so far behind the pack. The political realities dictate that the “truth” is whatever is heard loudest — and sadly, the actual truth is not always the same as the political “truth”.

As Australia moves into a long period of state and national elections, one hopes that the truth is heard above the “truth”.

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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