Management outputs and outcomes

2011

Efforts by government, the business sector and the broader community to reduce GHG emissions are essential to minimise the degree of climate change and associated consequences. Table 3.3 summarises the projected reductions in emissions from major abatement policies and measures put in place by the Australian and state and territory governments. The projected reduction averaged across each year during the Kyoto commitment period (2008–12) is 56 MtCO2-e, and the projected reduction in 2020 is 109 MtCO2-e.

Table 3.3 Projected annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from government policies and programsa

 
Schemeb Kyoto period (2008–12) average
(MtCO2-e)
2020
(MtCO2-e)
Renewable Energy Target 8.8c 29.9c
  • Large-scale Renewable Energy Target
8.6 26.3
  • Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme
0.2 3.7
National Strategy on Energy Efficiency 14.3c 42.6c
  • Equipment Energy Efficiency Program
6.3 20.3
  • Energy efficiency requirements: building codes
4.2 11.8
  • Mandatory disclosure requirements: buildings
<0.1 <0.1
  • Framework Cool Efficiency Program
0.1 0.4
  • Phase-out of incandescent lighting
1.0 1.9
  • Phase-out of inefficient water heaters
0.1 4.1
  • Energy Efficiency Opportunities Program
2.7 4.2
Queensland Gas Scheme 2.2 4.3
Victorian Energy Efficiency Target and Energy Saver Incentive Scheme 0.2 1.6
Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program 3.4 3.6
Greenhouse Challenge Plus 5.3 2.6
Biofuel Act 2007 (New South Wales) 0.1 0.3
New South Wales and Queensland land clearing legislation 18.0 18.4
Other measures 3.8 5.7
Total 56 109

MtCO2-e = megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent

a These estimates do not attempt to indicate the economic efficiency of programs or to calculate the cost per tonne of abatement.

b Only a selection of policies and measures are presented here. Overlap between policies and measures has been deducted from these estimates. Therefore, each estimate reflects the net abatement attributed to that policy or measure.

c Figures may not total to the number shown due to rounding

Source: Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency46

However, due to the long lifetimes (decades or centuries) of most GHGs30 and the length of time for oceans to adjust to changes in the temperature of the atmosphere, even if emissions were to cease completely, the world’s climate will continue to change for centuries. Under realistic scenarios involving the cessation of carbon dioxide emissions, the elevated global surface temperature and thermal expansion of the oceans associated with carbon dioxide will persist for more than 1000 years.75 As there will be some unavoidable consequences of climate change, it is critical that strategies to adapt to inevitable climate change are developed and implemented, particularly in areas of greatest vulnerability to change. In Australia, our natural ecosystems, coastal communities and water security are particularly vulnerable, having a limited range of ability to cope with climate change (Figure 3.18).25

Commenting on Australia’s vulnerability, the IPCC noted in 2007:

… even if adaptive capacity is realized, vulnerability becomes significant for 1–2 °C of global warming. Energy security, health (heat-related deaths), agriculture and tourism have larger coping ranges and adaptive capacity [than natural ecosystems, coastal communities and water security], but they may become vulnerable if global warming exceeded 3 °C. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change25

Since then, further studies suggest that the risks may be more immediate than indicated by the IPCC.9

(2011). Climate: Management outputs and outcomes. In: Australia state of the environment 2011, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/climate/topic/management-outputs-and-outcomes, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65c70bc372