Australia aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5 percent from 2000 levels with a maximum target of 15 percent by 2020 if an effective global climate-change pact is signed, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s government said yesterday.
The target falls far short of the 25 to 40 percent emissions reduction scientists and conservationists have been calling for to avert a climate change catastrophe.
However, the target for Australia, which is the world’s largest per capita producer of greenhouse gases, is closer to what businesses have been lobbying for.
“The government’s target of 5 percent by 2020 is totally unacceptable and cannot be allowed to stand,” Greenpeace climate campaign coordinator John Hepburn said. “Mr Rudd has betrayed the science, betrayed the community and betrayed the next generation who will have to live with climate change impacts. He has caved in to the bullying tactics of the coal and other polluting industries.”
The scheme has been generous to industries and businesses with more companies to get free permits than earlier planned and the coal industry getting more than A$4 billion (US$2.6 billion) in compensation.
“Australia’s commitment of a 5 to 15 percent reduction by 2020 is a serious and credible commitment to the global action required and is realistically attainable in the current circumstances,” the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White Paper said.
Some within the government had wanted the 2020 target set at a maximum 15 percent reduction on 2000 levels.
A year ago, immediately after Rudd took office, Australia ratified the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gases, which cause global warming, and promised a 60 percent cut by 2050.
The paper reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to cut emission levels by 60 percent of 2000 levels by 2050.
Earlier this year, Ross Garnaut, the government’s top climate change adviser, recommended Canberra set itself a 10 percent reduction target for 2020.
He warned Rudd that it would be economic suicide to adopt ambitious targets that were not shared by other big emitters.