They recommend this as part of a transition away from carbon based energy into renewable energy, in which we would cut our emissions by 19 per cent by 2020, 30 percent by 2025, and 40 to 60 per cent by 2030, compared with year 2000 levels.
This is highly consistent with the two per cent per annum cut I have been advocating since before 2010, which would have given us a 20 per cent reduction by 2020, a 30 per cent reduction by 2025, 40 per cent reduction by 2030, 80 per cent cut by 2050, and complete decarbonisation by 2060. The 80 per cent cut by 2050 is consistent with Labor's National Platform of 2011.
The Climate Change Authority recommendations deserve support on a number of grounds.
First, extreme weather events are already impacting on Australia and if the world does not move to renewable energy we have a lot to lose. We have more skin in the game than most.
Second, the Climate Change Authority, chaired by Bernie Fraser, was created by the Australian Government to provide independent advice on greenhouse gas targets, and brings together a strong understanding of the best science, the international context, and the economic impacts.
Third, we cannot expect to be taken seriously by the rest of the world unless our own actions reflect serious intent. Europe has committed to a 50 per cent reduction on 1990 levels by 2030. The United States has committed to 26-28 per cent reductions on 2005 levels by 2025. China has committed to peaking emissions in 2030.
Fourth, Australia is a major emitter. We are the thirteenth highest emitter in the world in absolute emissions, and the highest in per capita terms. It is not true that our actions don't matter.
Fifth, we can do this without economic damage. Our renewable energy industry is perfectly capable of meeting electricity demand over time provided Governments don't sabotage it. Last week Australia's largest greenhouse gas emitter, AGL Energy, committed to closing all its coal-fired power stations by 2050 and not building any new ones, thereby completely decarbonising its energy generation by 2050.
Australia should adopt the Climate Change Authority targets, and take them to the global climate summit in Paris later this year. The question is how do we want to be remembered by future generations – as greedy, selfish and short-sighted, or as visionary, intelligent and compassionate?