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Climate Justice & Climate Injustice: Australia wants a 2020 per capita GHG pollution 15 times greater than Developing World's

We are all familiar with the great assertion of the American Declaration of Independence that  “all men are created equal and have an unalienable right to life,, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Climate Justice demands that “annual per capita GHG emissions” should be the same for “all men” on the way to zero emissions and thence a requisite urgent return of the atmospheric CO2 concentration  (or the greenhouse gas  (GHG) CO2-e concentration) from the current 390 ppm CO2 (corresponding to 475 ppm CO2-e) to a safe and sustainable pre-industrial level of 300 ppm CO2 (corresponding to circa 350 ppm CO2-e) (for detailed assessments see 300.org: http://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org .).  As explained carefully below, the Australian Government's latest demands  mean that it will only agree to “annual per capita GHG emissions” of 17.2 (Domestic ) and 44.8 (Domestic plus Exported) tonnes CO2-e per person per year in 2020 provided the Developed World achieves  8.9 and the Developing World 3.0 -  this is clearly Climate Injustice.

Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change and Water, stated in May 2009: “The Rudd Government has today committed to reduce Australia’s [domestic] carbon pollution by 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 if the world agrees to an ambitious global deal to stabilise levels of CO2 equivalent [CO2-e] at 450 parts per million or lower.” (see Penny Wong, media release, “A new target for reducing Australia’s carbon pollution”, May 2009: http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/wong/2009/mr20090504c.html ).

Prime Minster, Treasurer, and Minister for Climate Change and Water, in “A new target for reducing Australia’s carbon pollution”, May 2009, set out their conditions for limited GHG polution cutbacks: “The Rudd Government has today committed to reduce Australia’s [domestic] carbon pollution by 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 if the world agrees to an ambitious global deal to stabilise levels of CO2 equivalent at 450 parts per million or lower… 5% [if no agreement] … 15% [if] global action on track to stabilisation between 510-540 ppm CO2-e; advanced economy reductions on aggregate, in the range of 15-25% below 1990 levels … 25% (up to 5 percentage points through Government [international carbon credits] purchases … This would involve … advanced economy reductions, in aggregate, of at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020; major developing economy commitments that slow emissions growth and then reduce their absolute level of emissions over time, with a collective reduction of at least 20% below business-as-usual by 2020 and a nomination of a peaking year for individual major developing economies; global action which mobilizes greater financial resources, including from major developing economies, and results in fully functional global carbon markets” (see Prime Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Change and Water, “A new target for reducing Australia’s carbon pollution”, May 2009: http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/wong/2009/pubs/mr20090504c.pdf ).

What does this Australian Government position actually mean in relation to the projected “annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions” of Australia and of  Developed and Developing countries in 2020?

We must turn to key sources of GHG emissions and population statistics for the basic data. To assist public understanding of the issue here are some key estimates relating to “annual per capita GHG pollution” and deriving  from authoritative primary data provided by the US Energy Information Administration (see: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ ) and the UN Population Division (see: http://esa.un.org/unpp/ ) and taking into account the OFFICIAL Australian 2020 targets of “25% reduction on 2000 Domestic GHG pollution by 2020” (subject to global agreements and with an in-built fiddle involving international carbon credits that I will simply ignore) and “60% reduction on 2000 Domestic GHG pollution by 2050” (2007 election policy: http://www.voteclimate.org.au/FED07-Polsum-Labor ). For related analysis see “Australia’s “5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020” endangers Australia, Humanity and the Biosphere“, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/australia-s-5-off-2000-ghg-pollution-by-2020-endangers-australia-humanity-and-biosphere .

Australia’s “annual LNG exports” (Mt CO2 produced): 21.8 (2000), 28.4 (2008), 38.2 (2020), 62.8 (2050).

Australia’s “annual coal exports) (Mt CO2 produced): 327.6 (2000), 474.3 (2008), 609.7 (2020), 1255.4 (2050).

Australia’s “annual LNG and coal exports” (Mt CO2 produced): 349.4 (2000), 502.7 (2008), 647.9 (2020), 1318.2 (2050).

Australia’s “annual Domestic GHG pollution) (Mt CO2-e produced): 535.3 (2000), 627.2 (2008), 401.5 (2020: 75% of 2000 value), 214.1 (2050; 40% of 2000 value).

Australia’s “annual Domestic & Exported GHG pollution” (Mt CO2-e produced): 884.7 (2000), 1129.9 (2008), 1049.4 (2020), 1532.3 (2050).

Australia’s population (Millions): 19.1 (2000), 21.0 (2008), 23.4 (2020), 28.0 (2050).

Australia’s “annual per capita Domestic GHG pollution” (tonnes CO2-e per person per year): 28.0 (2000), 29.9 (2008), 17.2 (2020), 7.6 (2050).

Australia’s “annual per capita Domestic & Exported GHG pollution” (tonnes CO2-e per person per year): 46.3 (2000), 53.8 (2008), 44.8 (2020), 54.7 (2050).

Australia’s “annual Domestic & Exported GHG pollution as % of 2000 value”: 100% (2000), 128% (2008), 119% (2020), 173% (2050).

As indicated above, Australia needs to REDUCE its “annual per capita Domestic & Exported” GHG pollution” by 90% to bring it back to the World average – but, in stark contrast, is set to INCREASE this under its quite FALSELY labelled “GHG pollution reduction” policies.

Data on the past and projected  populations of Developed and Developing countries  is available from the UN Population Division (see: http://esa.un.org/unpp/  ).

Data on the past and projected greenhouse gas emissions of Developed and Developing countries is conveniently summarized by the US Environmental Protection Agency (see “Global Greenhouse Gas Data”: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/globalghg.html ) and is set out below (Gt CO2-e = billions of tonnes of GHGs measured as CO2-equivalent).

Developed country GHG emissions (Gt CO2-e): 15.0 (1990), 16.5 (1995), 18.0 (2000), 19 (2005), 20.0 (2010), 21.0 (2015), 22.0 (2020).

Developed country population (billions): 1.147 (1990), 1.175 (1995), 1.195 (2000), 1,217 (2005), 1.237 (2010), 1,255 (2015), 1.268 (2020).

Developed country “annual per capita GHG pollution” (tonnes CO2-e per person per year”: 13.1 (1990), 14.0 (1995), 15.1 (2000), 15.6 (2005), 16.2 (2010), 16.7 (2015), 17.4 (2020).

“Advanced economy reductions, in aggregate, of at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020” as demanded by the Australian Government would mean Developed country 2020 emissions of 0.75 x 15.0 = 11.3 Gt CO2-e, this corresponding to an “annual per capita GHG emission” of 11.3 Gt CO2-e/ 1.268 billion people = 8.9 tonnes CO2-e per person per year (as compared to Australia’s proposed 2020 values for itself of 17.2 (Domestic ) and 44.8 (Domestic plus Exported) tonnes CO2-3 per person per year).

Developing country GHG emissions (Gt CO2-e): 10.0 (1990), 12.0 (1995), 14.5 (2000), 16.0 (2005), 18.5 (2010), 21.0 (2015), 24.0 (2020).

Developing country population (billions): 4.143 (1990), 4.538 (1995), 4.920 (2000), 5.296 (2005), 5.671 (2010), 6.071 (2015), 6.406 (2020).

Developing country “annual per capita GHG pollution” (tonnes CO2-e per person per year”: 2.41 (1990), 2.64 (1995), 2.95 (2000), 3.02 (2005), 3.26 (2010), 3.46 (2015), 3.75 (2020).

“Major developing economy commitments that slow emissions growth and then reduce their absolute level of emissions over time, with a collective reduction of at least 20% below business-as-usual by 2020” as demanded by the Australian Government would mean Developing country 2020 emissions of 0.8 x 24.0 = 19.2 Gt CO2-e, this corresponding to an “annual per capita GHG emission” of 19.2 Gt CO2-e/ 6.406 billion people = 3.0 tonnes CO2-e per person per year (as compared to Australia’s proposed 2020 values for itself of 17.2 (Domestic ) and 44.8 (Domestic plus Exported) tonnes CO2 per person per year).

As of 2008,  “annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year” (2005-2008 data) is 0.9 (Bangladesh), 0.9 (Pakistan), 2.2 (India), 3.2 (the Developing World), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 16 (the Developed World), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge Exported CO2 pollution is included (see Wikipedia, “List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita”:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions_per_capita ; Dr Gideon Polya, “Pro-coal Australian Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) devalues Australian lives, threatens Biosphere and ignores Science”, 2009: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/latest-pro-coal-australian-emissions-trading-scheme-ets-devalues-australian-lives-threatens-biosphere-and-ignores-science-and-climate-emergency ; Michael Szabo, “Cut CO2 to India’s level, top scientist urges”, Reuters, 28 May 2008: http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL28290944 ; Ross Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review, Chapter 7: http://www.garnautreview.org.au/chp7.htm  ).

Summary.

Informed by “all men are created equal and have an unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”,  Climate Justice demands that “annual per capita GHG emissions” should be the same for “all men”. Australia’s demand that it will only agree to “annual per capita GHG emissions” of 17.2 (Domestic ) and 44.8 (Domestic plus Exported) tonnes CO2-e per person per year in 2020 provided the Developed World achieves  8.9 and the Developing World 3.0 is clearly Climate Injustice.

PS. It has got far, far worse due to a deal between the pro-coal Rudd Labor Goverment and the pro-coal Turnbull Liberal Opposition.


The Rudd Labor-Turnbull Liberal Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) will actually INCREASE Australia’s domestic and exported GHG pollution to 173% of 2000 levels by 2050 (as estimated from linear extrapolation of US Energy Information Administration data: see: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ ) - howevr, by permanently excluding agriculture from a GHG cap,  it also commits Australia to over 50% of its current huge domestic GHG pollution (World Bank analysts having recently determined that livestock contribute over 51% of annual man-made GHG pollution; see   "Livestock and climate change": http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294 ). For details of what top climate scientists say needs to be done ASAP see "300.org - return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm": http://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org---return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm . For scathing condemnation of cap-and-trade Emissions Trading Schenes (ETSs) by top climate scientists, climate analysts and climate economists see “Experts: carbon tax needed and NOT cap-and-trade ETS”: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/carbon-tax-needed-not-cap-and-trade-emission-trading-scheme-ets .

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