27 May 2015


Stronger action to reduce Australia’s climate pollution now will avoid higher economic, social and environmental costs over the next two decades, according to a new report.

The report by the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at the Australian National University for WWF-Australia  summarises recent Australian and international studies and highlights findings relevant for Australia’s decision on post-2020 pollution reduction targets.

It finds that taking early action to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution is in our national interest, while delaying action will increase the costs of reducing emissions over time. 

It highlights the dangers of investing in high carbon-polluting infrastructure, such as coal and gas-fired power stations, and identifies opportunities for Australia in a low-carbon world.

“Every plausible carbon budget for Australia will involve strong reductions in emissions before 2030,” said the report’s co-author Associate Professor Frank Jotzo.

“The more we emit today, the harder the task later, with higher economic, social and environmental costs for Australia."

“While low-emissions technologies are getting cheaper over time, delaying action will lock in high carbon-polluting infrastructure, which can disrupt the economy in the future."

“The good news is that necessary emissions reductions are compatible with strong economic growth and an improvement in standards of living.”

A companion report released in April this year investigated technical opportunities for Australia, as well as the economic costs and benefits from reducing Australia’s emissions.

Both reports are intended to inform the Australian Government process for deciding post-2020 pollution reduction targets ahead of the Paris UN climate conference this year.

“Australia is the thirteenth largest polluter in the world and we are the highest per capita polluters out of these top thirteen countries,” said WWF-Australia’s Climate Change Manager Kellie Caught.

“Our short term and long term pollution reduction targets really do matter."

“Currently Australia is not doing enough to cut carbon pollution and is not pulling its weight internationally."

“The report warns that countries may take trade sanctions against Australia or give preferential trade treatment to countries taking stronger action."

“Ultimately, further delay in action will shift the burden to our kids.”

WWF calls on the Australian Government to commit to pollution reduction targets that put Australia on track to zero carbon pollution by 2050. This means:

  • Strengthening Australia’s currently weak 2020 pollution reduction target to achieve a 25% reduction from 2000 levels;
  • Setting post-2020 targets to reduce pollution to 40-50% below 2000 levels by 2025; and
  • Setting pollution reduction targets of 60-80% below 2000 levels by 2030.

WWF-Australia Media Contact:

Charlie Stevens, Senior Communications Officer