Aussie emissions target criticised by climate body

2014-02-27 10:22
(Frederic J Brown, AFP)

(Frederic J Brown, AFP)

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Sydney - The Australian government's climate change agency warned on Thursday that Canberra's 5% emissions reduction target was "not credible" compared with other countries and called for it to be tripled.

The climate change authority (CCA) said Australia risked losing its competitive edge if it did not accelerate emissions reduction strategies.

Instead of the current commitment to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 5% of 2000 levels by 2020, it said Australia ought to target a minimum reduction of 15%.

Doing so would only slow annual growth in average per person income by 0.02%, the authority said in a new report.

'Absolute crap'

"The 5% minimum [at] present isn't credible in terms of the task that has to be done and the timeframe", said CCA chairperson Bernie Fraser, a former reserve bank of Australia governor.

CCA is an independent body set up by the previous Labour government and which the new conservative administration is trying to abolish.

The report said Australia's 5% target, due to be reviewed by the government by 30 April was weaker than that of "many other comparable countries".

In the United States the target was a 17% reduction on 2005 levels by 2020, Britain was aiming for a 34% off 1990 levels and Norway was targeting a 30-40% decrease from the same period.

The world's heaviest emitters, China and the US, were both "stepping up their efforts on climate change", the report added, with initiatives including investment in renewable energy, tightening of vehicle emissions standards and local emissions trading pilot schemes.

"A target of 15% for Australia would be more in line with the targets being pursued by such countries", the report said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott once described the science behind man-made climate change as "absolute crap" and dismisses any link between global warming and increasing frequency of events such as drought and wildfires.

He abolished the previous government's independent climate change watchdog, the Climate Commission, soon after assuming power last September and has introduced legislation to axe the Climate Change Authority as well.

His is the first Australian post-war administration not to have a science minister.

One of Abbott's key election promises was to repeal a corporate pollution tax aimed at the nation's worst emitters, to be replaced with a controversial "direct action" plan of planting trees, sequestering carbon in soil and paying businesses incentives not to pollute.

Australia is among the world's worst per capita polluters due to its reliance on coal-fired power and mining exports.

Read more on:    tony abbott  |  australia  |  weather  |  climate change
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