Over the next week a much bigger island will take that title (yes, yes, it is a continent, but this is a fantasy!). On July 1, Australia’s carbon tax comes into effect, which has already prompted a new round of cheering and critiquing.
Representative of the cheering, Nature Climate Change has just published an essay that celebrates the tax as a model for other countries, without noting that it has been used intentionally as a political wedge issue making it deeply unpopular, and more importantly, that it will do almost nothing to help Australia to meet its short-term emissions reductions targets. This sort of willful blindness is endemic in climate policy discussions among those calling for action. Perhaps the thinking is that maybe if we pretend, then the fantasy will become real.
To understand why Australia’s approach to emissions reductions will not just fail, but perhaps even mask BAU as progress, one simply need do a bit of math. Have a look at this analysis (here in PDF) of the targets and timetables of Australia’s proposed short-term emissions reductions targets.