Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday set a net zero emissions target for 2050 ahead of the COP26, releasing Australia’s Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan.
The technology-driven plan sets out a credible pathway to net zero by 2050, while preserving existing industries, establishing Australia as a leader in low emissions technologies, and positioning Australia’s regions to prosper.
The plan is based on existing policies and will be guided by five principles that will ensure Australia’s shift to a net-zero economy will not put industries, regions or jobs at risk.
The principles include technology not taxes, expand choices not mandates, drive down the cost of a range of new technologies, keep energy prices down with affordable and reliable power, and, be accountable for progress.
The plan focuses on driving down technology costs and accelerating their deployment at scale across the economy.
Over the next decade, Australia’s existing A$20-billion investment in low emissions technology is expected to unlock at least A$80-billion of total private and public investment, including in clean hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and energy storage.
The plan also identifies the potential for continued technology advances and breakthroughs to unlock ultra low cost solar. As part of the annual update to the Technology Investment Roadmap, the goverment has set a stretch goal of solar electricity generation at A$15/MWh.
The Prime Minister said in a statement that the plan shows how priority technologies will deliver 85% of the emissions reductions necessary to achieve net zero by 2050.
This is achieved through Australia’s strong track record, with emissions already more than 20% lower than 2005 levels; the Technology Investment Roadmap, which will reduce emissions by around 40%; global technology trends that will reduce emissions by 15%; and high-integrity offsets that will achieve at least a further 10% reduction.
It recognises the role future technology breakthroughs will play in closing the gap, with new and emerging technologies to reduce emissions by a further 15% by 2050.
The plan rules out taxes or a legislated mechanism, because these regressive approaches would impose costs on households, businesses and regions least able to afford them.
It includes five-yearly reviews that will enable us to evaluate progress, and adapt to advances in technology.
The Prime Minister said the plan would continue to reduce Australia’s emissions while keeping its economy growing, maintaining affordable, reliable energy, and ensuring its regions remain strong.
“Australia now has a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and we have a clear plan for achieving it. The plan outlines responsible, practical action to achieve net zero that is in our national interest.
“The plan will deliver results through technology, not taxes. It respects people’s choice, and will not force mandates on what people can do or buy. It guarantees that we keep downward pressure on energy prices and secures reliable power. It will ensure Australia continues to serve traditional markets, while taking advantage of new economic opportunities.
“The plan has the prosperity and wellbeing of regional Australia at its core. We have an opportunity to act now to harness existing regional strengths, unlock new areas of growth, and diversify economic activity in regions. We will invest in rural and regional Australia to ensure it succeeds and is protected under the plan.
“Australia will continue to build on our record of reducing emissions and achieve our targets in the Australian way.”
Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said Australia’s emissions reduction story had been one of consistent achievement, and the plan had been designed for Australia.
“Our plan continues the policies and initiatives that we have already put in place and that have proven to be successful, while preserving existing industries and jobs, and supporting regional Australia. It will not shut down coal or gas production, or require displacement of productive agricultural land,” Taylor said.
“Between 2005 and 2021, Australia’s emissions fell by 20.8%, outpacing the reductions of the US, Canada and New Zealand, and every other major commodity exporting nation in the world. The most recent forecast shows we will cut our emissions by up to 35% by 2030.
“Under our plan, the Technology Investment Roadmap and global trends will see Australia reduce its emissions by 85% by 2050. We are committed to closing the gap to net zero over the next three decades.”
Latest official projections released show Australia is on track to reduce emissions by up to 35% by 2030, well above its target of 26% to 28%.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea) on Tuesday said that the oil and gas industry had a critical role to play in helping the Australian government deliver on its net-zero targets.
CEO Andrew McConville said the oil and gas industry was already taking action and making investments to reduce emissions in Australia and the region.
“Not only does natural gas reduce emissions by replacing coal in power generation, it is also necessary to support more renewables in our electricity system.
“Multibillion-dollar technology is already up and running across the country helping to reduce emissions, including carbon capture and storage, offshore batteries on platforms and installation of renewables to help power our sites,” he said.
“Investments are also being made as recently as this week that will also see hydrogen produced through steam methane reforming, the lowest cost, most rapid way to commercialise this important new fuel.”
McConville said the government’s announcement to target net-zero emissions by 2050 across the economy is consistent with Appea’s Climate Change Principles.
‘’With an agreement to achieve net zero by 2050 in place, the Prime Minister can head to Glasgow for COP26 with a plan to reach that target. We too want a future with cleaner energy, and we are already helping Australia get that cleaner energy as quickly as possible,’’ said McConville.
Analyst Wood Mackenzie said on Tuesday that Australia could reach its targets of net-zero emissions by 2050, but that it would requrie a complete transformation of its traditional energy and export sectors, and that there were significant opportunities to capitalise on and protect future revenues.
“Australia’s desire to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is a step in the right direction. The country’s major trading partners, China, Japan, and South Korea, are already in transition towards that goal. Other major energy exporters such as Russia and Saudi Arabia also announced net-zero goals by 2060 in recent weeks. This means Australia will need to retool its commodity exports industry to align with the Paris climate targets,” Wood Mackenzie Asia pacific head of markets and transitions, Prakash Sharma, said.
“This will require Australia to become a significant player in low-carbon hydrogen trade as well as being able to offer carbon storage and offset services.”
Wood Mackenzie noted that nearly 83% of Australia’s power generation comes from solar and wind by 2050 as compared to about 20% last year. Natural gas, bio energy, geothermal and small modular reactors will supply the remaining 17% in power output. Coal into power is expected to be phased out by 2035. MiningWeekly