From University of New South Wales: “Counting the costs of the major parties’ climate change policies”

U NSW bloc

From University of New South Wales

16 May 2019

Cameron Allen
Graciela Metternicht
Tommy Wiedmann

UNSW sustainability scientists have run their rulers over the major parties’ climate policies to determine whether taking action against climate change is more expensive than doing nothing.

Extreme climate events: an old ‘Queenslander’ house in Milton, Brisbane during the floods in January, 2011. Picture: Shutterstock

Climate change has emerged as the issue most likely to determine the result in the upcoming federal election. It is no longer the exclusive concern of the ‘latte left’, with more conservative voters than ever before now listing it as a major election issue.
At UNSW, we recently developed an integrated macro-economic simulation model (iSDG-Australia) capable of projecting the future impacts of a range of policy and investment scenarios, including additional policies to address greenhouse gas emissions.
There are clear differences in the proposed responses to climate change from the major political parties. We can now model how these different policies affect Australia’s economy and greenhouse gas emissions trajectories in the future.
The Coalition Government has committed to the Paris Agreement by setting a national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. This represents a target level of 441 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e).
The latest projections from the Department of Environment and Energy reveal that Australia is not on track to reach this target. In fact, emissions are projected to increase marginally over the period to 2030. Given the Coalition is still in power and has not released any substantive change in climate change policy ahead of this election, let us call this the ‘Business-As-Usual’ scenario.
Labor, on the other hand, has released a more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 45% on 2005 levels by 2030. To achieve this, Labor has set out a suite of policies in its Climate Change Action Plan. This includes a target of 50% renewables by 2030, a target of 50% of electric vehicles in new cars sales by 2030, doubling energy productivity by 2030 and improving emissions standards, among other measures.
Not surprisingly, the Greens have set an even more ambitious target of 63-82% reduction in emissions on 2005 levels by 2030.
These more ambitious targets have sparked an explosive political row regarding the potential costs of addressing climate change to the economy and jobs.
Modelling commissioned by the Government from the economist Brian Fisher concludes that Labor’s emissions target would subtract at least $264 billion from gross national product by 2030, or up to $542 billion depending on how it’s implemented. A minimum of 3% reduction in real wages and 167,000 fewer jobs are also predicted.
These findings have been vehemently criticised by experts and Labor for relying on inaccurate assumptions and failing to consider the economic costs of inaction on climate change.
The model we developed is a powerful tool to explore potential development pathways for Australia to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals and other international targets.
We used the model to explore potential impacts of some of Labor’s key climate policies on the economy, jobs and greenhouse gas reduction as compared with the Coalition’s business as usual scenario.

See the full article here .


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