Mark Butler, spokesman for the laboratory on climate change and energy, said the response shows the Morrison government is not serious about the Paris agreement or protecting Australians from the dangerous effects of climate change. In August 2020, an economic, agricultural, investment, trade union, social affairs and environmental forum issued an extraordinary statement calling on the government to adopt a zero net emissions target by 2050. A recent June 2020 survey showed that 70% of Australians expect the government to protect the environment as part of economic recovery efforts. Another poll showed that 72% of Australians see bushfires from November 2019 to January 2020 as a wake-up call for the effects of climate change, and 73% agree that the Prime Minister should be at the forefront of the fight against climate change. A federal commitment to zero missions and a single Paris target for 2030, as well as a target for renewable energy beyond 2020, are needed to ensure a single federal framework for a rapid transition to a carbon-free future. Investment in renewable energy is declining: in the second quarter of 2020, large-scale renewable energy investment was the lowest since 2017, down 46% from the previous quarter. In 2019, renewable energy accounted for 21% of Australia`s total electricity generation, up from 19% in 2018. The 2020 renewable energy target was met last year and there have been no subsequent policy actions or updated targets. The Paris agreement provides that countries will make a commitment every five years. An agreement to this effect calls on countries that have set 2025 targets to submit a new agreement by 2020 and countries that have used a timetable until 2030 to “communicate or update” their commitment by 2020. Dean Bialek, a former Australian diplomat at the UN who is now working with the 2020 mission led by former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, said confirmation that Australia wanted to present the same “very weak” target in Paris revealed two things. The reduction in economic activity in Australia due to the COVID 19 pandemic is leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions forecasts for 2030, although Australia has not implemented an effective climate policy.
The Australian government has initiated a gas recovery instead of a green recovery and has continued to show its support for the coal industry. The government has not shown any intention to update its objective of the Paris Agreement, nor to adopt a zero net emission target, the Prime Minister expressly excluding it. The government is focusing on what is called a “technologically neutral” approach, which is opposed by its focus on gas. Investments in renewable energy have fallen to 2017 levels due to uncertainty in government policy. Climate change measures are lacking despite the increased climate impact, such as the catastrophic bushfires that engulfed several countries in late 2019 and early 2020. The CTU believes that the objective of Australia`s Paris Agreement is “insufficient”. Renewable energy has increased significantly in recent years, but has declined in 2020: investment in renewable energy in the second quarter of 2020 fell by 46% compared to the previous quarter and fell 52% from the 2019 quarterly average, the lowest figure since 2017. In 2019, renewable energy accounted for 21% of electricity generation, up from 19% the previous year.
Australia had a renewable energy target to ensure that by 2020, 33 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity comes from renewable sources. However, since meeting the renewable energy target in 2019, investment in renewable energy has declined due to political uncertainty, regulatory risks, connectivity issues and a lack of investment in networks.