Australia's climate plans aim low
Australia pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 5 to 15 percent below 2000 levels by 2020, targets that are far less than what scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change.
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Rudd, whose first official act as prime minister was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, justified his country's lower target by pointing out that Australia's population is expected to grow by 45 percent between 1990 and 2020, mostly due to immigration, while Europe's population is expected to remain constant over that time period:Skip to next paragraph
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The EU’s 20 per cent target announced over the weekend is equal to a 24 per cent reduction in emissions for each European from 1990 to 2020.
Our 5 per cent unconditional target is equal to a 27 per cent reduction in carbon pollution for each Australian from 2000 to 2020 – and a 34 percent reduction for each Australian from 1990. ...
In fact if the Europeans were to adopt the same per capita effort as Australia is proposing, their economy wide cuts would be around 30 per cent by 2020.
According to Scientific American, Australia, which heavily relies on coal for electricity, has the fourth-highest per capita greenhouse emissions in the world, five times that of China.
"A global embarrassment"
“We need a plan to cut our emissions in half in the next decade and then to move to zero as quickly as possible.”
“We are in an emergency and only emergency action which mobilises the whole of society to confront the problem will do the job. Like World War II such a mobilisation can also address the problem of global recession and world wide poverty.”
The Australian Greens, who in the 2007 federal election commanded just over 9 percent of the national vote, called the plan "a global embarrassment and a recipe for global catastrophe." The party is campaigning for a 40 percent target.
Business unhappy too
While environmental groups are decrying the plan for aiming too low, Australia's business leaders are saying that it goes to far. The Voice of America quotes Peter Anderson from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who says that Rudd's blueprint is irresponsible in light of the current financial crisis:
"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 and we need to come through that economic firestorm with a strong economy," Anderson noted. "And placing domestic stress on the economy is just going to make that more difficult."