Australia has tough task as emissions continue to rise

Other News Materials 26 September 2008 08:05 (UTC +04:00)

With Australia's greenhouse gas emissions still rising by 2 per cent a year, it's going to be difficult for one of the world's biggest per-capita emitters to meet even the most modest reduction target, a leading climate change scientist said Friday, reported dpa.

"Australia's position remains unique as a developed country," Michael Raupach told The Sydney Morning Herald. "Since 2000, Australian fossil fuel emissions have grown by 2 per cent a year."

Raupach, who is with the government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation research institute, said Australia's emissions were growing at double the rate of the 1990s.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd brought Australia into line with most developed countries and signed the UN's Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change, when his Labor Party won the November general election.

He promised to reduce carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 and set himself a deadline of the end of this year to adopt an interim target for 2020.

"To be a credible global player," Australian Conservation Foundation head Don Henry said, "Australia's target must be within the range already on the table of the international negotiations, which have recognized that developed countries, as a group, need to cut their carbon pollution by at least 25 to 40 per cent by 2020 to keep global warming below dangerous levels."

But it's likely that Rudd would only commit Australia to a 10-per-cent cut - and only if the rest of the world signs up to the successor treaty to Kyoto, negotiations on which are to be finalized in Copenhagen next year.

If the agreement is not forthcoming, the Australian government's chief climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, said Australia should aim for a dip of 5 per cent from 2000 levels.