Labor edges away from using Kyoto credits to reach Paris target

bill shorten is set to unveil labor’s climate change policy over the coming weeks
Bill Shorten is set to unveil Labor’s climate change policy over the coming weeks. Over the weekend he signalled that the ALP is unlikely to use carryover credits as part of its policy. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Bill Shorten has given a further indication that Labor will not use the ‘accounting trick’ as part of its emissions policy

— Bill Shorten has signalled Labor is highly unlikely to use carryover credits from the Kyoto protocol as part of its climate change policy, which will be unveiled over the coming weeks.

In his strongest comments to date, the Labor leader said over the weekend he recognised that other countries had resolved not to use the accounting system that allows countries to count credits from exceeding their targets under the soon-to-be-obsolete Kyoto protocol periods against their Paris emissions reduction commitments for 2030.

“One thing I do recognise about the Kyoto credits point is that some other countries have moved away from using that, as a form of our calculation, the United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark,” Shorten told reporters.

“We’re seriously considering that option and we’ll have more to say in coming weeks.”

Shorten’s signal follows a similar hint a week ago from the climate change spokesman, Mark Butler, at a candidates’ forum in a key Victorian marginal seat. According to an attendee at the forum in the electorate of Corangamite on 18 March, Butler said he was not personally keen to use carryovers if Labor won the coming federal election.

Labor has already released its policy for reducing emissions in the electricity sector. Shortly the opposition will unveil the rest of its policy measures, expected to include a trading scheme for liable entities – big polluters emitting more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon a year; new vehicle emissions standards to bring down pollution in transport; measures for agriculture; and its final position on the use of international permits and Kyoto credits.

The Morrison government is opposed to using international permits, but has recently confirmed it will bank a 367-megatonne contribution from carryovers as part of its recently released carbon budget, which details the emissions reductions from various programs that will be required to meet the Paris target.

As well as the chunk it is counting from carryovers, the government is counting just under 100 megatonnes of abatement from “technology solutions”, which have not been specified, and “other sources of abatement”.

Environmental groups are opposed to deploying carryover credits as part of the abatement toolkit, because it lowers the level of ambition in emissions reduction.

The Investor Group on Climate Change, which represents institutional investors such as super funds, with total funds under management of about $2tn, has also warned against substituting accounting for practical abatement, arguing the practice is “fundamentally at odds with limiting warming in line with the objectives of the Paris agreement and driving global momentum for coordinated, and increased ambition”.

The Greens have been limbering up to criticise Labor if it decided to use carryovers for the looming abatement task.

The Greens climate change spokesman, Adam Bandt, argued recently it was possible the ALP was leaving its options open on Kyoto credits because it could be forced to rely on credits and permits to meet its target of a 45% reduction on 2005 levels by 2030, which will be imposed if Labor wins in May.

The Greens argue Labor’s decision to apply their economy-wide target of 45% to the electricity sector, instead of forcing steeper abatement in electricity, where it is comparatively cheaper to cut pollution, means it will have to chase more expensive abatement in sectors such as heavy industry, transport, agriculture and waste.

Bandt has argued Labor may not be able to meet its target “without relying on Scott Morrison’s accounting trick”.

by Katharine Murphy | The Guardian

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