Australia can cut emissions and grow its economy

21 September 2015

Australia can make deep cuts to its carbon emissions and move to full renewable energy for its electricity supply at a relatively low cost, an ANU report has found.

The report, written by Associate Professor Frank Jotzo and PhD scholar Luke Kemp, reviews the evidence from major studies over the past eight years.

It finds that the cost estimates for Australia reaching ambitious emissions reduction goals came down in every successive major report.

"Deep cuts to Australia's emissions can be achieved, at a low cost," said Associate Professor Jotzo, director of the ANU Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy.

Australia has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by five per cent of year 2000 levels by 2020, and is due in coming months to decide on emissions reduction targets for after 2020.

Australia is among the world's highest producers of per-capita carbon emissions, due to a heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation.

Associate Professor Jotzo's report, commissioned by WWF Australia (World Wildlife Fund), found the cost of moving to renewable energy was becoming cheaper, and strong climate action could be achieved while maintaining economic growth.

"At the heart of a low-carbon strategy for Australia is a carbon-free power system," he said.

"Australia has among the best prerequisites in the world for moving to a fully renewable energy electricity supply."

He said the costs of carbon-free technology, such as wind and solar power, have fallen faster than expected.

"For example, large-scale solar panel power stations are already only half the cost that the Treasury's 2008 and 2011 modelling studies estimated they would be in the year 2030," he said.

The report is available at the WWF Australia website.