Sunday, July 08, 2007

South Australia emission targets become law

I got this from Responsible Investment News. It will be interesting to see how this plays out - less than 40% of 1990 levels by 2050 is a lot, but it's also a long way off. More interesting is the 20% renewable energy target by 2014, which is only seven years away.

South Australia has become the first state in Australia to legislate targets to reduce greenhouse emissions with the Climate Change and Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Act 2007 becoming law on 3 July 2007.

The legislation sets out three targets:

- to reduce by 31 December 2050 greenhouse gas emissions within the State by at least 60% to an amount that is equal to or less than 40% of 1990 levels as part of a national and international response to climate change;

- to increase the proportion of renewable electricity generated so it comprises at least 20 per cent of electricity generated in the State by 31 December 2014; and

- to increase the proportion of renewable electricity consumed so that it comprises at least 20 per cent of electricity consumed in the State by 31 December 2014.

For more information go to:


For interest, I decided to see at what year the world was emitting 40% of 1990 levels. I grabbed some data here. It looks like 1990 levels were 6.2 billion metric tons of carbon (note, that this says carbon, not carbon dioxide. Since the molecules have different weights, I wonder if the difference is intentional? At any rate, it should still answer our question. So, 40% of 6.2GTons is 2.48GTons which is the rate of emission in...1959! Hmm...

An even more interesting analysis is to determine what that works out to be in CO2 emissions per capita. In 2050 the population of the world is expected to be about 10 billion. I know the link shows a graph of around 9.5 billion, but another pop clock put the population at 10 billion by 2037, so I took a round number in the middle (besides, it makes the math easier). So, 2.48GTons/10Gigapeople = .248 Tons/person. So, to achieve, for the whole world, what South Australia is proposing requires cutting our carbon emissions to a quarter of a ton/person. Seeing as our current output is 1.23 tons/person, the last time emissions were down to about .25 Tons/person was between 1897 and 1907 (depending on population data, which I didn't have handy). To support the number of people on this planet in 2050, and to achieve, globally, the South Australia targets, we need to turn the CO2 production clock back to the turn of the century - the previous century. Clearly there is a huge need for low-carbon solutions to maintain our standard of living!

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