Post-Copenhagen Australia will INCREASE its per capita Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution

After the Copenhagen Climate Conference, Australia is back in its Business -As-Usual (BAU) comfort zone of being  (a) the unchallenged leader of the World in annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution and (b) not prepared to decrease  its world leading domestic and exported annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.

 

The Prime Minister, 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 pollution 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”.  [1].

 

 

However, according to Dr Andrew Glikson (Australian national University, ANU; the WA Glikson Crater is named in his honor), October 2009 : "The atmosphere has already transcended the CO2-equivalent (including the forcing of methane) level of 460 ppm".  [2].

 

According to p19 of the authoritative March 2009 Copenhagen Climate Congress Synthesis Report,  the CO2 range of 350-400 ppm corresponds to a CO2-equivalent of 445-490 and interpolation of the quasi-linear graphed data yields correspondence of the current  CO2 of 390 ppm with 480 ppm CO2-e. [3].

 

Accordingly we see that the current CO2-e is already 10-30 ppm above the target limit of 450 ppm CO2-e set by the Australian Government as a precondition for action.  

 

One would  assume that the Rudd Labor Australian Government would scrap as untenable its commitment “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” – this target having already been exceeded by 10-30 ppm CO2-e.

Indeed this position has already been clarified post-Copenhagen by Climate Change Minister Senator Penny Wong: “"The reality is that the Greens have taken a position, in relation to targets, that the Government was not able to negotiate on. They indicated they did not wish to have a negotiation unless the Government was prepared to put targets of 25 to 40 per cent [of 2000 level by 2020] on the table. That is not the Government's policy, that is not the Government's position.We don't believe that is a responsible way forward. We've made clear what our target range is, that is dependent on what the rest of the world is prepared to do, and as we work over the coming weeks with other nations who are supporting the Copenhagen Accord, we will be considering very carefully what other nations put forward. We have our target range [5-25% off 2000 level by 2020; 60% off 2000 level by 2050], we will consider what is put forward by the rest of the world under this agreement, and we will do no more and no less. We will apply the conditions that have been the subject of a lot of discussion with industry, with business, and also with the environment movement, to determine what is the appropriate target for Australia." [4].

Post-Copenhagen, the Liberal Party-National Party Coalition Opposition has committed itself to a 5% reduction on 2000 level by 2020. According to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott: ''I think that we should go for the 5 per cent [off 2000 level by 2020]and we should only go higher than that if there are clear, binding, enforceable, transparent commitments from other countries. And in the wake of Copenhagen we certainly can't be confident that we have got that.'' [5].

What do these Australian commitments mean in terms of (a) domestic GHG pollution and (b) domestic plus exported GHG pollution?

Data below on Australia’s annual GHG pollution has been summarized from key authoritative sources by the Yarra Valley Climate Action Group. [6, 7].

Australia’s “annual LNG and coal exports” (Mt CO2 produced; projection from US Energy Information Administration data): 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 i.e. 25% off 2000 value), 508.5 (95% of 2000 value i.e. 5% off 200 value), 214.1 (2050; 40% of 2000 value, i.e. 60% off 2000 level).

Australia’s predicted population (Millions; UN Population Division): 19.1 (2000), 21.0 (2008), 23.4 (2020), 28.0 (2050).

Australia’s Domestic “annual per capita GHG pollution” (tonnes CO2-e per person per year): 28.0 (2000), 29.9 (2008), 17.2 (2020; 25% off 2000), 21.7 (2020, 5% off 2000), 7.6 (60% off 2000).

Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution (Mt CO2-e): 884.7 (2000), 1129.9 (2008),  1049.4 (2020: 75% of 2000 value i.e. 25% off 2000 value), 1156.4 (2020: 95% of 2000 value i.e. 5% off 2000 value), 1532.3 (2050; 40% of 2000 value, i.e. 60% off 2000 level).

Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution as % of 2000 CO2-e: 100.0% (2000), 127.7% (2008), 118.6%  (2020 if  Domestic pollution is 75% of 2000 value i.e. 25% off 2000 value) OR  130.7%  (2020 if Domestic pollution is 95% of 2000 value i.e. 5% off 2000 value), 173.2% (2050; if Domestic pollution is 40% of 2000 value, i.e. 60% off 2000 level).

Australia’s annual per capita Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution (tonnes CO2-e per person per year): 46.3 (2000), 53.8 (2008),  44.8 (2020 if Domestic pollution is 75% of 2000 value i.e. 25% off 2000 value) OR  49.4 (if Domestic pollution is 95% of 2000 value i.e. 5% off 2000 value), 54.7 (2050 if Domestic pollution is  40% of 2000 value, i.e. 60% off 2000 level).

Data on the past and projected greenhouse gas emissions of Developed and Developing countries (Gt CO2-e = billions of tonnes of GHGs measured as CO2-equivalent).is set out below  as conveniently summarized by the US Environmental Protection Agency. [8].

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).

We are now in a position to compare Australia’s “annual per capita GHG pollution” in “tonnes CO2-e per person per year” with that for Business –As-Usual (BAU) scenarios for the Developed and Developing World according to the US EPA. [8].

The Australian commitment to "60% off 2020 level by 2050" means that Australia's Domestic plus Exported per capita GHG pollution in tonnes per person per year will actually INCREASE from 53.8 (2008) to 54.7 (2050).

The best offer from the Australian Government (25% off 2000 by 2020) means a “Domestic” and “Domestic plus Exported” per capita in 2020 of 17.2 and 44.8 tonnes CO2-e per person per year, respectively, as compared to a 2020 Developed BAU per capita of 17.4 and a 2020 Developing BAU of 3.8.

The worst offer from the Australian Government and Opposition (5% off by 2020) means a “Domestic” and “Domestic plus Exported” per capita in 2020 of 21.7  and 49.4 tonnes CO2-e per person per year, respectively, as compared to a 2020 Developed BAU per capita of 17.4 and a 2020 Developing BAU of 3.8.

The base-line, bipartisan offer from Australia (5% off 2000 level by 2020) means that Australia’s 2020 Domestic per capita GHG pollution will be 21.7/3.8 = 4.5 times the Developing World’s 2020 BAU per capita and Australia’s Domestic plus Exported per capita GHG pollution will be 44.8/3.8 = 11.8 times the Developing World’s 2020 BAU per capita.

Bangladesh has one of the lowest footprints of any country in the world (0.9 tones per person per year) but is acutely threatened\ by historical and current First World GHG pollution. [6, 7, 9].

The base-line, bipartisan offer from Australia (5% off 2000 level by 2020) means that Australia’s 2020 Domestic per capita GHG pollution will be 21.7/0.9 = 24.1 times Bangladesh’s current per capita and Australia’s 2020 Domestic plus Exported per capita GHG pollution will be 44.8/0.9 = 49.8  times Bangladesh’s current per capita.

These astonishing disparities utterly trample over any notion that “all men are created equal” and add a startling new perspective to the notorious saying of former racist Australian Labor figure Arthur Calwell that ”Two Wongs do not make a White”. [9].

[1].  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 ).

[2]. Andrew Glikson, “Planetary boundaries”, 18 October 2009: http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/2009/10/andrew-glikson-planetary-boundaries-co2.html .

[3]. March 2009 Copenhagen Climate Congress Synthesis Report, p19: http://climatecongress.ku.dk/pdf/synthesisreport/ .

[4]. Alexandra Kirk, “Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has ruled out negotiating with the Greens, as the Federal Government faces an uphill battle to make its emissions trading scheme (ETS) a reality”, ABC Local, AM, 22 December 2009: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/12/22/2778173.htm?site=local .

[5]. Tom Arup, “Limit emissions cut to 5%: Abbott”, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 December 2009: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/limit-emissions-cut-to-5-abbott-20091222-lbq5.html .

[6]. “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 .

[7]. “Climate Justice & Climate Injustice: Australia wants a 2020 per capita GHG pollution 15 times greater than Developing World's”: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/climate-justice .

[8]. US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), “Global Greenhouse Gas Data”: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/globalghg.html .

[9]. Gideon Polya, “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability”, G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 1998 & 2008, p183.

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