Greenpeace is calling for a dramatic increase in emissions reductions targets following revelations in a new Australian National University (ANU) report that a 5% target is rendered meaningless by sub prime offsets from the land use and forestry sector (known as LULUCF).
To meet its 5% target, Australia has to reduce its emissions from current levels of 577 MtCO2-e, to around 520 MtCO2-e in 2020; a cut of almost 60 MtCO2-e.
The ANU report, commissioned by Greenpeace, shows Australia could obtain maximum theoretical LULUCF offsets of 370 MtCO2-e/yr, a figure which dwarfs the cuts Australia needs to meet its 5% target.
The report also shows that Australia is planning to exploit 'hot air' offsets while significantly underestimating the amount of LULUCF benefits in order to justify a weak emissions reduction target.
"By overplaying the pain which would be felt making cuts in to emissions intensive industry, the government is hoping to get away with feebly low targets," said Greenpeace Head of Campaigns Steve Campbell. "But the Treasury's accountancy would make Enron blush."
"This sleight of hand removes almost any incentive to reduce Australia's dependence on polluting power and leaves us wheezing at the back of the international race for clean energy. The only ones to gain are the wealthy emissions-intensive industries."
Under Kyoto, a LULUCF rort (better known as the 'Australia Clause') allowed Australia to effectively convert its 108% target into a 142% target. This provision is the primary reason Australia will likely meet its Kyoto obligations, masking significant emissions increases from polluting industry.
"It might feel good to cheat the system, but in the end, we're only doing so to hide a lack of ambition," said Campbell. "For all our sakes we need real targets to help us make clean energy bigger and cheaper, and cut pollution so we stop making climate change worse."
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