People, Environment

Australia Sets “Inadequate” Emissions Target

Australia Sets “Inadequate” Emissions Target
Australia Sets “Inadequate” Emissions Target

Australia plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by between 26% and 28% below 2005 levels by 2030, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said.

It is less than cuts pledged by countries such as Canada and the US, BBC reported.

Australia’s previous target was to cut emissions by 5% by 2020, based on emissions in 2000.

The announcement comes ahead of a key international meeting in Paris in December to agree on a new global climate strategy.

Australia is still largely powered by carbon-polluting coal and is one of the world’s biggest coal exporters. It is the 13th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world and the largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita on the planet.

Abbott said Australia had to protect economic growth at the same time as it reduced emissions.

“It is very much that everything we do has this in mind: how do we promote jobs and growth ... and climate change policy is no different,” he said at a press conference in Canberra.

“We have to reduce our emissions ... but in ways that are consistent with continued strong growth.”

  Vastly Low

Abbott said Australia’s target was within the middle of the spread of targets adopted by economies of comparable size.

He said the cost to the economy of achieving a 26% cut by 2030 would equate to between about 0.2% and 0.3% of Australia’s gross domestic product.

Scientist Tim Flannery from independent not-for-profit research group the Climate Council, said even if Australia met this target, it would still be emitting more per person than the US and “significantly more” than the UK, on a per capita basis.

“These targets are vastly inadequate to protect Australians from the impacts of climate change and do not represent a fair contribution to the world effort to bring climate change under control,” said Prof. Flannery.

The chief executive of the Climate Institute, John Connor, echoed Flannery’s sentiments and said 26% would be “pathetically inadequate” and still leave Australia as “the highest per capita emitter in the world”, according to The Guardian.

“All the research shows we can reduce our emissions by much more even with higher population growth,” he said.

  Abbott’s Defense

Abbott said the new target was “foursquare in the middle” of the pledges comparable economies will take to the United Nations meeting in Paris in December.

The pledge is lower than those made by comparable developed economies, including the United States (41%), the European Union (34%) and Canada (30%), but the Australian government argues it is proportionate because of Australia’s higher population growth and the higher economic costs of global climate action on coal exports.

The average of developed nation emission reductions, using the 2005 base year, is about 36% by 2030.

The Climate Council says that to stay below a 2°C rise in global temperature, Australia would need to cut emissions by 60% by 2030 on 2000 levels.