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Climate revelations at estimates reveal Australia will blow carbon budget

Media Release
Adam Bandt 20 Oct 2020

Under questioning from Greens Senate Leader, Larissa Waters, at Senate Estimates, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has confirmed that new, more accurate methods of measuring the climate damage from methane (natural gas) will mean Australia will emit the equivalent of approximately 150 million tonnes more of climate pollution between 2021 and 2030 than previously estimated. Instead of decreasing emissions faster to stay within the existing budget, they will simply increase the amount of permissible emissions.

Quotes attributable to Greens leader and Climate Emergency Spokesperson, Adam Bandt

"This is an earth-shattering and climate-threatening revelation at Senate Estimates.”

"The government has effectively admitted that the gas-led recovery will blow Australia's carbon budget, and instead of fixing the problem, they’re just rewriting the rules to allow them to pollute even more.

"The Greens anticipate that this change will mean the equivalent of another 150 million tonnes of climate pollution will be released into the atmosphere, worsening global heating and setting us further back from a safe climate.

"Gas is as dirty as coal, and the glaciers won't be fooled by this little accounting trick.

"The government has been caught doing 200km/hr in a 60 zone, and instead of slowing down, they're lifting the speed limit.

“The climate budget isn’t like a Liberal Party campaign fund. If you go over budget, you can’t just hop on the phone with a fossil fuel executive to ask for more cash. More carbon dioxide and methane means more climate damage, it’s as simple as that.

"The Liberals' addiction to gas is putting our climate targets out of reach. We call on Labor to stop supporting the Liberals' gas-led recovery and instead join the Greens in taking on this gang of climate criminals.

"When you properly account for the toxic methane when gas is drilled, the government now won't reach even its own pathetic climate targets."

Greens Senate Leader, Larissa Waters, said:

“The logic is astounding: methane is worse for our planet than we thought, so the Government will just make our carbon budget bigger to compensate and call it a day.”

“The government’s response might pass the accounting test, but it doesn’t pass the pub test.”

For background: This change has come about because emissions have had to be recalculated due to a new understanding of the climate damage of methane. Australia’s pathetically low commitment is a reduction of 26-28% below 2005 levels of emissions by 2030.

New science from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, that Australia is required to adopt under the Paris agreement, shows that methane is now considered to be 28x worse than CO2 instead of 25x worse.

This will mean the equivalent of another 150 million tonnes of climate pollution in the 2021-2030 period than we were previously projecting. The Department has today also confirmed that instead of decreasing emissions faster to stay within the existing budget, they will increase the size of the budget by an as yet unconfirmed quantity. 

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