Australia Offers Only a Measly Reduction of Five Per Cent Cut in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

by Gopalan on  December 15, 2008 at 11:40 AM Environmental Health   - G J E 4
Australia Offers Only a Measly Reduction of Five Per Cent Cut in Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Monday announced only a measly reduction of five per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions.

He said there would be an unconditional 5 per cent cut in emissions by 2020, which could increase to a maximum 15 per cent if the rest of the world agreed to a similar target.

Environmentalists had advocated cuts of 25 to 40 per cent to avert catastrophic climate change The ruling Labour Party had talked of an ambitious cut of 20 per cent during the election campaign.

Rudd referred to the economic meltdown as a reason for the proposed modest reduction.

Green groups reacted angrily. Senator Christine Milne says the emissions reduction targets are extremely weak and disappointing.

"This is a complete failure of a system," she said.

"Five per cent is a global embarrassment, 15 per cent is way below even the minimum the rest of the world wants to see.

"The Europeans have said 20 per cent targets by 2020. How can the Rudd Government face the rest of the world when Australia has done nothing?"

But Rudd said today's White Paper targets represented a responsible course of action.

"We are not going to make promises that cannot be delivered,'' he told the National Press Club in Canberra today.

 "We are starting the scheme with appropriate and responsible targets, targets that are broadly consistent with other developed countries.''

The targets deliver necessary reform to tackle climate change while supporting Australia's economy and securing jobs during the global recession, he said.

"Treasury modelling demonstrates that we can deliver on this 5 to 15 per cent commitment while maintaining solid economic growth.'' 

During Mr Rudd's televised speech three young female environmentalists rose from their seats and shouted their disapproval.

"We need hope,'' one yelled.

"We're not going to walk away from (action on) runaway climate change,'' called out another.

"We're not going to walk away from (action on) runaway climate change,'' called out another.

"No, no'' the protesters chanted as Mr Rudd spoke of emissions targets.

The protester is believed to be Annika Dean, who released a press release earlier in the day detailing the planned protest.

"This announcement means the Australian Government is willing to sacrifice the Great Barrier Reef to appease the big polluting companies that are fuelling global climate change,'' Ms Dean said.

In Brisbane protesters from the Brisbane Southside Climate Action Group staged a sit in at the foyer of  Kevin Rudd's local electorate office, describing today's targets as "weak".

"The Government's target of 5 per cent by 2020 is totally unacceptable and cannot be allowed to stand,"  Greenpeace climate campaign co-ordinator 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," Mr Hepburn said

Despite the modest targets and a compensation package worth more than $1bn to help business and community groups adjust to emissions trading, Australia's leading business group labelled the scheme "high risk" during a time of global recession.

"But it does beg the basic question and that is whether or not these costs can be borne by business in the first place at a time when Australia is going through an international economic firestorm,'' Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson told ABC Television.

"We need to come through that economic firestorm with a strong economy and placing domestic stress on the economy is going to just make that more difficult.''

The scheme, to be in place by 2010, will hand more than $4bn to the coal industry to compensate it for efforts to tackle climate change as the Government imposes a tax on carbon using a permit system where businesses can sell credits for carbon they don't use. 

More businesses will receive free pollution permits than the Government first planned, and they will get more of them.

By 2020, almost half the permits in the system will be given to business for free.

Ray Nias, Director of the Australian division of the WWF environment group pointed out, "It commits Australia to long-term dangerous climate change [and] it will make Australia's ability to negotiate global agreements very, very difficult," he said.

Source: Medindia

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