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Australia on track to break Paris carbon emission commitments

Australia must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2045 if it is to do its part to keep warming to less than 2 degrees, an expert panel has found.

The 2-degree figure is the upper limit of the Paris Agreement signed by the government in 2016. To reach the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees set by the agreement, the nation must reduce emissions by 74 per cent by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2035, according to an analysis by the newly created Climate Targets Panel. The panel includes leading Australian climate scientists such as professors Will Steffen, Lesley Hughes and Malte Meinshausen, as well as former Liberal leader John Hewson.

Operations at the Carmichael Coal Mine, Queensland, last year.

Operations at the Carmichael Coal Mine, Queensland, last year.Credit:Cameron Laird

The Australian government has committed to reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030 from a 2005 base, which Professor Steffen says is inadequate to meet the Paris goals. It is also far short of the recommendation by the Climate Change Authority in 2014, which said the government should cut emissions by 45 to 65 per cent by 2030.

Due to a failure over recent years to drive emissions down, Australia must now make deeper cuts each year to make a reasonable contribution to Paris targets, said Professor Hughes, pro-vice-chancellor at Macquarie University.

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