Nations from Senegal to Tuvalu have used a United Nations climate conference to challenge the Morrison government’s use of carbon “carryover credits” to virtually halve Australia’s abatement ambition out to 2030.
The conference that wrapped up at the end of last week in Bonn, Germany, debated among other things, the rules of the Paris Agreement.
The discussions included whether nations including Australia should be allowed to count the surplus it expects to generate during the Kyoto Protocol period that runs to 2020.
On the government’s projections, 328 million tonnes of Australia’s pledged cut of about 695 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent could be met by counting the Kyoto surplus for the Paris pledge over the decade from 2021-2030.
Among the nations that opposed the use of “carryover credits” at the Bonn conference included the Association of Small Island states, including Tuvalu.
South Korea, the European Union, and New Zealand were also against using Kyoto surplus, according to Kate Dooley, a researcher with the the Climate and Energy College at the University of Melbourne, who was an observer at the Bonn conference.
“Discussions here in Bonn have made it clear that most countries do not accept the carry-over of Kyoto units into the Paris Agreement,” Dr Dooley said.
“The world’s most vulnerable countries have spoken out to say that accounting tricks, such as those the Australian government intends to use, are not consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.”
Angus Taylor, the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, though, defended Australia’s stance.
“We have made responsible, achievable and balanced commitments to reduce our emissions and we have a strong track record in meeting and beating our targets,” Taylor said.
“We will meet our Paris commitment to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and we will do this while growing the economy, creating jobs, protecting our environment and keeping power prices down.”
“We have already over-achieved on our commitment under the Kyoto Protocol, exceeding our 2012 targets and expecting to exceed our 2020 targets by 328 million tonnes – something few countries have done,” Taylor said.
The Bonn talks were largely focused on preparing the rules for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement ahead of a Conference of the Parties (COP25) summit in Santiago, Chile later this year. The article is one of the main unresolved issues from the pact signed in Paris in 2015.
The Carbon Pulse newswire said while the new text agreed at Bonn had the potential to scupper Australia’s plans to use Kyoto credits without a specific prohibition in place they would still be able to be banked.
Still, the newswire quoted Gilles Dufrasne of Carbon Market Watch as raising the issue of how such credits had undermined nations’ abatement efforts.
“We have seen how damaging this has been under the Kyoto Protocol and we cannot afford to repeat the experience under the Paris Agreement,” Dufrasne said. “It is very important that [Kyoto Protocol] units are not allowed for use towards [national targets} ….