Governments stumble at Copenhagen but can recover Media Release

Dec 20, 2009 - 11:00am

World governments have stumbled badly but not fallen in the quest for ambitious global climate action giving no excuse for inaction at home, The Climate Institute said today at the conclusion of extraordinary scenes at the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit.

"Word leaders have emerged with a disappointing* and fragile agreement for collective climate action but those who back delay should take no inspiration," said John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute.

"It is economically and environmentally reckless to ignore the low carbon and efficient economic drivers our competitors and trading partners around the world are building for energy security and cost effectiveness, as much as climate reasons.

"We should not forget that last year, before Copenhagen, global clean energy investments outstripped fossil fuel investment for the first time.

"The US, China and many other nations emphatically reinforced they would be continuing to drive such investments and dramatically improve the carbon productivity of their economies."

"Governments failed in Copenhagen to turbo boost those significant domestic initiatives into sufficient international action, but it would be economically and environmentally irresponsible to hold back on economy wide reforms on energy efficiency, clean energy and emissions trading,

"The outcome is a fragile platform for collective action which requires added urgency and focus for those Australian politicians and businesses serious about taking effective action on climate change.

"A serious and prudent response to the competitiveness and climate challenges requires backing Australian commitments to at least 25 per cent reductions by 2020, as well as getting on with energy efficiency, clean energy and emission trading policy improvements.

"The final hours of Copenhagen Summit were mired in disarray and disappointment, but the global clean energy race is accelerating with China, the US and others continuing full throttle towards competitive industries, jobs and investments - Australia cannot afford to be left behind."

"Despite the disappointments at the UN level, Australia needs to press ahead with strong policies to drive low carbon and clean energy investments to take advantage of opportunities but also to prepare for the urgent climate action that is inevitable," said Mr Connor.

* The Climate Institute rated the accord one star out of five on the issues needed to be settled for a strong foundation for a robust and legally binding treaty to deliver ambitious global action on climate change.

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