Australia unveils emissions reduction target ahead of Paris talks

Australia unveils emissions reduction target ahead of Paris talks

Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced cuts to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions that were immediately criticized by environmental groups and opposition politicians for lagging behind other advanced economies.

The world’s largest exporter of coal and iron ore will cut emissions by 26-28 percent of 2005 levels by 2030, Abbott said, a target that will be submitted as part of negotiations on a global climate deal in Paris at the end of the year.

Australia is one of the largest carbon emitters on a per capita basis due to its reliance on coal-fired power plants, and critics say the move will do little to bring it in line with ambitious targets set by the United States and Europe.

Abbott is already facing criticism for his strong support for the coal industry and for scrapping an ambitious carbon tax and emissions trading plan last year.

“We’ve got to reduce our emissions but we’ve got to reduce our emissions in ways which are consistent with continued strong growth,” Abbott told reporters. “The last thing we want to do is strengthen the environment and at the same time damage our economy.”

Australia is currently aiming to reduce emissions by 5 percent from 2000 levels by 2020.

Critics accused Abbott of gaming the system by choosing 2005 instead of 2000 for the new benchmark. 2005 was an historically high year for emissions.

The government’s independent expert body, the Climate Change Authority, said last month Australia needed to reduce emissions by 40 to 60 percent from 2000 levels by 2030 to meet an international agreement to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

Abbott said the new target puts Australia in line with pledges from the United States, the EU and Canada, but data compiled by the Climate Institute think tank puts Canberra’s position below all three.

 

Source: Reuters U.S.

Date: September 2015

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