Saturday, 6 September 2008

Green groups slam failure to set firm targets

THE Federal Government has refused to commit itself to any of the pollution reduction models outlined by its handpicked climate change expert, Ross Garnaut, saying it will make its own decisions by the end of the year.

However, the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, hinted that the Government was leaning towards one option canvassed by Professor Garnaut which provided the least political pain.

The option, which would result in a 5 per cent reduction of emissions by 2020, outraged environmental groups.

The Greens warned of trouble before the Senate for the Government's emissions trading scheme should the 2020 target not be more ambitious.

In a report released yesterday, Professor Garnaut said the most practical scenario was for Australia to reduce its emissions by 10 per cent by 2020, leading to an 80 per cent reduction by 2050.

However, this would require a global agreement at the international climate change conference in Copenhagen next year and Professor Garnaut was not confident this would occur.

In the event of failure in Copenhagen, he said, Australia "should still play a substantial role" in "keeping the chance of a global agreement alive" and commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent by 2020.

This would equate to a 60 per cent reduction by 2050, he said.

The Government will set its own 2020 target by the end of the year but has already promised a 60 per cent reduction by 2050 and Senator Wong said yesterday that would not change.

"We've been very clear that our commitment is to a 60 per cent reduction by 2050 and I think what Professor Garnaut's report today confirms is that is a significant target," she said.

Environmental groups were quick to slam both the 10 per cent and 5 per cent models as grossly inadequate.

"The best way for Australia to encourage other countries to reduce their carbon pollution is for us to lead by example and set strong targets to reduce our own," said Don Henry of the Australian Conservation Foundation. He said cutting emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 was affordable and would cost families less than $1 a day.

The Greens want a 40 per cent reduction by 2020 and said the 5 per cent and 10 per cent reduction models were "laughable".


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