Wind turbines south of Goulburn.
Australia's first 2035 target must be submitted in 2025 to comply with the Paris climate agreement. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS
  • economy, business and finance

Deeper cuts to carbon emissions under draft 2035 target

Marion Rae April 13, 2024

More ambitious emissions reduction “could be achievable” if governments, business, investors and households do more, according to a federal climate body.

The end goal of net zero by 2050 has bipartisan support, although the major political parties remain at loggerheads on how to get there.

Meanwhile NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, which together account for three-quarters of the nation’s emissions, have already announced 2035 emissions reductions targets of at least 70 per cent.

The nation’s first 2035 target must be finalised in coming months and submitted in 2025 to meet the federal government’s obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Under the legally binding treaty, Australia is one of the 194 nations, plus the European Union, that must try to limit global warming to 1.5C by reducing emissions compared to what was pumped into the atmosphere in 2005.

Releasing an issues paper ahead of a decision, Climate Change Authority boss Brad Archer said it “would be ambitious, and could be achievable” for Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 65 to 75 per cent by 2035.

As the years tick by, the numbers must rise for Australia to meet its international commitments for achieving net zero by 2050.

Monash University’s Climateworks Centre has said Australia should be aiming for 85 per cent fewer emissions by 2035.

But the issues paper warned that attempting to go much faster than 65 to 75 per cent cut “could risk significant levels of economic and social disruption”.

Even at the current pace, governments will compete for public funds, access to electricity supply and land access, the authority warns.

Risks from major developments of wind farms, solar farms and transmission lines in farming regions will need to be managed, according to the paper.

A solar farm south of Canberra.
 Farmers may benefit financially from renewable energy and transmission projects on their land. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

Farmers may benefit financially from renewable energy and transmission projects on their land but must also accommodate infrastructure, and change farming practices to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.

Climate change hazards include coastal inundation as the sea level rises, more frequent and intense heatwaves, more intense rainfall events causing more damaging floods, and sustained increases in average temperature.

Regions affected by climate change are also urged to establish new industries and retrain workforces.

The authority said it would consider the implications of the transition on regions, including access to health, education and other services.

Mr Archer called for Australians to share personal perspectives and experiences with climate change, and ideas that would support workers, communities and regions as the nation decarbonises.

“We are looking at the latest science, economic data, technological developments, and the opportunities and impacts for Australians, including First Nations peoples and those in rural and regional areas,” he said.

The deadline for submissions is May 14, with advice to be finalised by October.