The Climate Council has described the Victorian government’s new emissions reduction targets as ‘progress’ in the right direction but says the state is too vulnerable to climate change impacts and must do more.
Victoria’s recently unveiled emission reduction targets — of 28-33% by 2025, and 45-50% by 2030 — were welcomed by the Climate Council on Monday. Professor Will Steffen, a spokesperson for the advocacy group, warned that without more ambitious targets Victoria was missing out.
“Given the extraordinary economic opportunities for Victoria from investing in clean technology and new industries, a higher emission reduction target is a pathway to more clean jobs and investment, cleaner and cheaper electricity, and healthier communities,” Professor Steffen said.
Victoria, which is one of the first Australian states and jurisdictions in the world to legislate net zero emissions by 2050, met its previous target of 15-20% for 2020. The state has cut its emissions by 24.8% based on 2005 levels.
Victoria’s acting premier James Merlino said that acting on climate change was an opportunity to create jobs, stimulate innovation and protect the environment.
“With strong action on climate change, we can position Victoria as a global leader – advancing new technology, ground-breaking innovation and driving the creation of new jobs for Victorians.”
The Climate Council is calling on Victoria to ‘aim high and go fast’ — a slogan that is also the name of a new report the group produced which shows how new science-based targets for Australia of a 75% cut by 2030, and reaching net zero emissions by 2035 can be achieved.
“Victoria is incredibly vulnerable to climate change impacts, having experienced severe drought, soaring temperatures, and the 2009 and 2019-2020 megafires. The faster Victoria acts and the higher it aims, the more Victorians benefit,” Professor Steffen said.
Victoria’s emissions comprise 51% electricity generation, and 35% road transport. Solutions and incentives to change behaviours in these two areas have the potential to seriously cut back emissions, sooner, the council says.
In a statement released on Monday, Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Ben Carroll, acknowledged the role his department played in working with the transport sector to reduce emissions.
“Transport is one of the state’s biggest emitters – but Victoria’s transport sector stands ready to take strong action to ensure a sustainable industry, and future, for our state,” the minister said.
Part of Victoria’s climate change strategy is to commit more than $100 million to transform the transport sector and, in an Australian-first, power government operated metro trains with 100% renewable electricity by 2025.
The Climate Council group said that in the absence of federal leadership, it was incumbent on state and territory governments to make the ‘lion’s share’ of emission reductions this decade.
“Moving to decarbonise transport by aiming for half of all new cars sold in Victoria by 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles, and ratcheting up emissions reduction targets are good building blocks for even faster and bolder action,” said Climate Council senior researcher Tim Baxter said.
“There is no safe level of global warming, with every tonne of greenhouse gas emissions doing us further damage. The more emissions that we cut, and every fraction of a degree of warming that we avoid, will make a world of difference,” he added.