AEC Net Zero 2050

The Australian Energy Council has officially endorsed the plan for Australia to aim for net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050.

The Council threw its support behind the Paris Agreement and said it recognised the need for developed countries to transition to net zero emissions by 2050 to help achieve the Agreement’s temperature goals.

The Council’s Chief Executive, Sarah McNamara, said the first step to reducing carbon emissions was agreement on a long-term target, which can act as the starting point for constructive consensus.

“Settling on an economy-wide target will let us then decide the best ways to get there and what policy and mechanisms could be applied,” Ms McNamara said.

“Our members have long accepted the science of climate change and the need to decarbonise the economy. In that regard we have consistently argued for well-designed, market-based, and stable national policy settings around which our members can invest.

“Australians want action on climate change as well as affordable, reliable energy and that will continue to require adoption of new technologies and investment.”

French president Francois Hollande held a press conference with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon after signing of the Paris Climate Accord, April 2016

French president Francois Hollande held a press conference with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon after signing of the Paris Climate Accord, April 2016

Technology would be a key part of the broader transition towards net zero emissions, with increased electrification of parts of the economy, which would also help develop new jobs and opportunities for Australia.

Accordingly, Ms McNamara welcomed the Federal Government’s efforts in supporting transformational technologies as a positive development that can help the sector reach a consensus on a long-term objective.

Since electricity generators, as major carbon emitters, have long recognised their key role in Australia reducing its emissions, the Council has seen greenhouse gas emissions in the National Electricity Market fall by around 20 per cent over the past decade.

It anticipates emissions will continue to fall as this transition continues.

“The net zero economy-wide target does not imply that electricity emissions must necessarily fall to zero by 2050. Depending on technological developments, it may prove cost-effective to have a small level of emissions offset by carbon sinks elsewhere,” Ms McNamara said.

“But our efforts need to be broader and a net zero emissions target across the economy we believe is the best way forward to deliver the Paris temperature goals at the lowest economic and social cost.

“Many state governments, corporations and sector associations support a move to long-term carbon targets and today we add our voice to that objective.”

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