Government should reject weak Review targets Media Review

Sep 05, 2008 - 9:02am

The Climate Institute today called on the Government to reject the Garnaut Review’s soft 2020 emissions reduction targets which, if adopted, would effectively forfeit the chances of achieving the 450ppm global solution that Garnaut himself admits is in Australia’s best interest.
“Accepting the recommended 2020 targets of 5 or 10% reductions would strip Australia of international credibility in global climate talks and, if followed by other major polluters, would lock us into a highly dangerous world of climate change,” said John Connor, Climate Institute CEO.
“Professor Garnaut’s report highlights that it is in Australia’s interest to see major reductions in global emissions towards a level of 450 parts per million, which on his calculations, would see domestic reductions of 25% by 2020. However the Garnaut Review ‘reluctantly concludes’ that the 450ppm target is ‘not possible at this time.
“It is a prematurely bleak and defeatist view from Garnaut Review and appears to overlook the fact that Australia can be a very influential player in global negotiations.”
Earlier this week The Climate Institute released modeling that showed it was both affordable and achievable to make a 25 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020. 
“International climate talks are entering a critical phase with other countries looking to the Australian Government to help deliver an effective and ambitious global agreement. To follow Professor Garnaut’s cricket metaphor, we shouldn’t walk off the pitch when the test match is still under way,” Mr Connor said.
The Review recommended a target of a 10% reduction on 2000 levels by 2020.
“If others follow our poor example we would be complicit in leading the world toward 550ppm with severe impacts on Australia - loss of the Great Barrier Reef as we know it; up to a 40% decline in Murray Darling River flows, and a 50-95% chance of turning the Amazon rainforest into a major source of pollution,” Mr Connor said.
“The view that somehow the world could return to a 450ppm pollution level, after heading towards 550ppm levels, has an extraordinarily short shelf life and appears fundamentally flawed beyond 2015, a time at which the global climate scientific body, the IPCC says was the latest time at which global pollution levels would need to stop rising to achieve 450ppm.
“Australia needs to be able to convince other nations it is contributing to a 25 to 40% reduction in emissions, needed from developed countries as a group, and should set domestic targets of at least a 25% reduction on 1990 levels by 2020. The Garnaut Review’s modeling shows a reduction in GDP of only 1.6 per cent if Australia was to achieve this target as part of the global response. The Government should stay on the pitch and be a positive player towards the target of 450ppm, a target which requires a small investment in slowing our GDP growth. In reality, taking a strong target will mean Australia having to wait only an extra eight months in 2020 to achieve the same level of wealth that would have been achieved if no action was taken – a small price to pay to save the Great Barrier Reef.” 
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