April 23, 2018 / 10:57 AM / a month ago

Australia confident of 'beating' Paris climate deal targets, says minister

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia April 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A ustralia is confident of not only meeting, but beating, its carbon emissions targets agreed to under the Paris climate agreement, the country’s environment minister said on Monday.

Australia has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

But a United Nations Environment Programme report late last year included Australia in a list of 10 nations and regions that need to take further action to meet their Paris goals.

“Yes, we have work to do,” Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I’m confident of not just meeting it, but of beating it,” he said on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Yogyakarta, on the Indonesian island of Java.

Based on its current energy mix and growth projections, Australia’s emissions in 2030 are estimated to be about 57 percent higher than its target of 290 million tonnes under the Paris climate accord, government research showed last year.

That could change if the government is able to push through its National Energy Guarantee, a power plan that would also include emissions cuts.

Political disagreements have held back climate policy in Australia for many years, but broad support emerged last week for the national power plan.

“We’ve come a long way,” he said. “Where we have been very effective is in seeking emissions reduction in different aspects of the economy.”

Frydenberg cited contracts issued under the country’s Emission Reduction Fund, which sees big emitters paid to cut carbon levels.

He also mentioned work already underway in the transport sector to reduce vehicle emissions and a national energy productivity plan to boost efficiency by 40 percent by 2030.

“When it comes to the electricity sector, in the last two quarters, emissions have come down as renewables have gone up,” he said.

Frydenberg told summit delegates that Australia would help fund the development by the Coral Triangle Center, a non-profit foundation, of a learning module on protecting coastal ecosystems.

Such ecosystems, which include sea grasses, mangrove forests and salt marshes, capture carbon emmissions that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

Frydenberg also said that private sector investment in forests needs to be ramped up.

“While investments to support green environments is growing rapidly, less than 1 percent is flowing to forestry and agricultural activities,” he said.

"To leverage private sector investment, countries across the region need to develop enabling environments that meet the requirements of the private sector." (Reporting by Michael Taylor, Editing by Jared Ferrie(Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)

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