Australia will export a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in its coal in 2016, all but erasing the little benefit it would accomplish if it met its weak Paris targets.
A new analysis from Greenpeace Australia Pacific shows that the billion tonnes of carbon dioxide it will export in its coal in 2016 will erase “the few benefits of meeting its weak Paris target and worsening its contribution to global climate change.” Specifically, if Australia’s coal exports increase by 60%, as the Australian Government expects and intends, then “the resulting increase in carbon emissions will erase the benefit of Australia meeting its Paris target nearly seven times over.” The report notes:
“Australia represents itself as an overachiever in global efforts to combat climate change but despite its commitment to the Paris Agreement, the rapid growth in its fossil fuel exports show Australia’s overall contribution to global climate change is getting worse, not better”
“The Australian Government wants us to believe it is proactive about climate change, but in reality it’s sending its emissions overseas through its coal exports,” said Shani Tager, Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s climate and reef campaigner. “Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter and is avoiding responsibility for its contribution to global carbon emissions. By doing so, the Australian Government is ignoring the most serious threat to the Reef—climate change.”
According to the analysis, Australia’s domestic CO2 emissions have not decreased since 1990, and its coal export volumes have more than tripled in the same period, now sitting at 400 million tonnes per year. This is bad news, as every tonne of coal Australia produces emits 2.5 tonnes of CO2 on average, no matter where it is used, meaning that Australia’s CO2 exports through coal have shot through the roof, increasing by 253% since 1990.
“Australia’s climate change response and its signature on the Paris Agreement simply won’t be credible as long as it sends more carbon emissions abroad than it saves at home, and pushes its coal exports,” Tager said.
The report also highlighted the impact that global climate change is having on Australia’s World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, which is currently in the midst of its worst coral bleaching in known history, with almost the entire reef experiencing some measure of bleaching.
“This isn’t a future threat, it’s one that is playing out right now before our eyes, with coral bleaching on 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef, and severe bleaching on the most pristine northern parts,” Ms Tager continued. “The Australian Government cannot say it is safeguarding the health of the Reef when it is doing everything it can to avoid tackling the greatest threat it faces, which is coal-driven climate change.”
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