Australia's weak submission to Copenhagen Accord



Australian flag

Not so proud: green groups and politicians are expressing disappointment over Australia's "weak" submission to the Copenhagen Accord.

Credit: Clipart

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As nations come forward with their final emissions reduction targets to the Copenhagen Accord before this weekend's deadline, Australia has confirmed its submission of a mere five per cent cut of 2000 emission levels by 2020.

"Consistent with our commitment to do no more and no less than the rest of the world, we are...submitting our existing target range: 5 per cent unconditional, with up to 15 per cent and 25 per cent both conditional on the extent of action by others," said Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, announcing the move on Wednesday. (Read more on the original target range announcement here.)

Senator Wong said an increase in the five per cent target would not be forthcoming until "the level of global ambition becomes significantly clear", but that the Government "will continue to work with the parties to the Copenhagen Accord to get the most ambitious agreement possible...and consistent with that target range...will set a more ambitions target..."

The announcement has left many cold. Greens Deputy Leader Christine Milne said that "by refusing to even submit a specific target, let alone a higher target than their weak 5 to 25 per cent which helped to create the deadlock in Copenhagen, the Rudd Government is undermining that process and will continue to anger the developing world."

"The world desperately needs a circuit breaker - someone to put forward a higher target - to get the world moving towards the outcome we need," she said, but Australia was clearly not it.

CEO of WWF-Australia, Greg Bourne, also expressed disappointment over Australia's announcement.

"The Australian Government has bowed to the hype that Australia 'should not do too much', and has failed to raise its level of ambition to match what other countries have commited to," he said.

"This Government is locking us into a postion as a follower, not leader, and it's our economy and our environment which will suffer because of this."

Though through the Copenhagen Accord supporting countries, both developed and developing, have agreed to limit global warming to less then two degrees, Bourne pointed out that this would not be possible with the reduction targets currently on the table.

"They have set the world up for three degrees of warming or more. On Sunday when countries must confirm their carbon reduction targets we must see real commitment, not more games," he said.

WWF also continued to express concern over inequalities in targets and actions between richer and poorer nations.

"For developed nations, who did the most to push the Copenhagen Accord, WWF fears that there is also still a gross mismatch between their goal of keeping the world out of climate danger and the steps they are prepared to take to actually achieve this goal," said the group's Global Climate Initiative leader, Kim Carstensen.

But some of the major developing countries and emerging economies, such as Brazil and South Africa, are expected to "announce high levels of ambition and follow up urgently with clear national action plans to meet this ambition," Carstensen said, which is good news.

Meanwhile, as the world awaits the remaining submissions to come through as the deadline for targets draws near, the US today submitted their own goal to the Accord, pledging to cut emissions "in the range of 17 per cent" of 2005 levels, with plans to reach a 30 per cent cut by 2025.