Australia Fails to Boost Climate Ambition; Sets Out Carbon Cap Through 2030

By Mathew Carr

Dec. 31, 2020 — LONDON: Australia updated its “pledge” to the Paris climate agreement before a deadline today, yet failed to boost its ambition compared with its plan in 2016.

The nation plans to cut emissions 26%-28% vs 2005 levels by 2030, which provides a “budget,” or cap, of roughly 4.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to its Nationally Determined Contribution:

Under previous governments, Australia began a national carbon trading system and sought to link with the EU emissions market, the world’s biggest. But that was abandoned as governments changed.

Setting a cap could be the first step in implementing a cap-and-trade system, which economists argue is the most cost efficient climate measure.

The U.K. and Australia are striking a trade deal, which will cover environment. The U.K. is establishing its own carbon market — Brexit means it’s leaving the EU emission trading system, the world’s biggest such program.

Like in the U.S., Australian states have so far done most of the heavy lifting on climate protection. Still, the nation, whose politicians are influenced by murky fossil-fuel interests, has been a global laggard, despite devastating bushfires.

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