Image Credit: Alex Proimos

The Victorian Labor Government has set new interim emission reduction targets, committing to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 20 per cent, from 2005 levels by 2020, along with launching a framework for achieving zero net emissions from the state by 2050.

As part of its contribution to meeting the 2020 emissions reduction target, Victorian Government committed to reducing its own emissions, relating to the operations of government departments, by 30 per cent, from 2015 levels, by 2020.

The new emissions reduction target will be enshrined in law as part of the Climate Change Bill 2016 currently before the Victorian Parliament, which requires the state to set additional interim targets in the future, to ensure the state continues its path towards zero emissions.

Victoria is joined by South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory as jurisdictions that have all made matching pledges to reach zero emissions by mid-century.

Federally, the Australian Government has not set an emissions reduction target beyond 2030, with the current Coalition Government committing to an emissions reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 as part of negotiations towards the Paris Agreement.

Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio linked the newly announced emission reduction targets with recent analysis showing that 2016 proved to be the third consecutive year of record global temperatures.

“2016 was officially the world’s hottest year on record but it was also a year Victoria took important steps to reduce the risks of climate change.” Minister D’Ambrosio said.

“We’ve introduced our world leading Climate Change Bill, set strong renewable energy targets and appointed Victoria’s first independent Renewable Energy Advocate. Now, we’ve announced ambitious yet achievable emissions targets for 2020 to put us on the path to net zero emissions by 2050.”

Friends of the Earth welcomed the announcement made by the Victorian Government of the 2020 emissions reduction targets.

“The Andrews government’s climate target positions our state as a national leader and exposes the monumental policy failure we’ve seen under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull,” Acting campaigns coordinator for Friends of the Earth, Leigh Ewbank said.

“We can build on this positive first step, but only if the Victorian upper house pass amendments to the Climate Change Act to ensure future governments are transparent with their climate goals.”

While in a separate statement, Friends of the Earth criticised the Victorian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approving an expansion to the Loy Yang Brown Coal power station just days before the emissions target was announced.

“The Andrews government can articulate its commitment to leading on climate change in its forthcoming coal policy.”

“Misalignment between state climate and energy policy can be resolved. It’s why we need the upper house to pass the Climate Change Act and a smart coal policy from the Andrews government.”

The Victorian EPA estimated that the upgrades to Loy Yang power station will require the burning of approximately 400,000 additional tonnes of coal per annum, resulting in a four per cent increase in carbon emissions. The overall emissions intensity of the power station would be improved through efficiency gains achieved during the upgrade process.

The Climate Council released a report earlier in the month highlighting the fire risk faced by Victorians. Analysis showed Victorians experience disproportionate impacts of bushfires, observed to be hugely destructive on Victorian communities, calling on governments to step up action to reduce emissions and tackle global warming.

The Victorian emissions reduction target announcement follows last week’s declaration that the Andrews Government would take steps to reduce emissions in its transport sector. In taking a significant part of Victoria’s public transport infrastructure off fossil fuels, the state sought tender submissions for the construction of a 75 Megawatt solar farm in regional Victoria to power Melbourne’s tram network.

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