Australia ‘punches below weight’ with emissions pledge

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Australia has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% by 2030, from 2005 levels, but the plans have been criticized by environmental campaigners for falling behind other countries.

The pledge will be presented at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.

WWF Australia said the target “falls well short” of the Australian government's commitment to do its “fair share” in the international effort to minimise global warming.

It said that Australia’s target puts it at the “back of the pack” and behind efforts from the USA, UK, China and others and will leave Australia as one of the highest per capita emitters in the world.

In recent times, prime minister Tony Abbott has also faced criticism for his anti-wind stance, after branding them “ugly and noisy”, and his government’s 15-month delay in agreeing a renewable energy target (RET). His government also recently attempted to block the Clean Energy Finance corporation’s ability to invest in small-scale solar.

However, in a statement about the new pledge, Tony Abbott, minister for foreign affairs Julie Bishop and minister for environment Greg Hunt, said: “This is a responsible and achievable target. It is comparable to the targets of other developed countries and allows our economy and jobs to grow strongly.

“Our emissions intensity and emissions per person will fall further than other developed economies.

“We are committed to tackling climate change without a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme that will hike up power bills for families, pensioners and businesses.”

Abbott’s announcement comes after US president Barack Obama and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy released details of the Clean Power Plan – a set of measures designed to reduce CO2 emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. The final rules also include a target for 28% of the country's electricity to come from renewables by 2030.

Furthermore, WWF Australia also criticised Abbott’s announcement for failing to provide any detail on how Australia would meet its previous commitment to increase its financial support to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.

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