Lord Deben, head of the British government’s climate change advisory body, says Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target puts it among the ‘don’t cares’
Australia’s “pathetic” 2030 emissions reduction target shows the country has opted out of the global effort to limit warming, according to the head of the British government’s climate change advisory body.
Lord Deben, previously a minister in the government of Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, said Australia’s 26% to 28% reduction in emissions by 2030, based on 2005 levels was “simply not enough”.
“Global warming won’t wait for Mr Abbott and his government. Mr Abbott’s hubris is staggering.”
Deben, formerly known as John Gummer, said Australia’s “pathetic” target showed it had “opted out of the greatest physical challenge of our times” and ignored the leadership of US president Barack Obama, the European Union and Pope Francis.
“Australia’s friends know she could do so much better than this and all of us abroad will work with all those people who are determined to overturn this irrational decision,” he said.
The condemnation of Australia’s climate commitment, to be taken to crunch international talks in Paris later this year, was echoed by the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands – one of the low-lying Pacific nations at acute risk from sea level rises.
“Australia’s weak target is another serious blow to its international reputation,” said Tony de Brum.
“As with prime minister Abbott’s attempt to ignore climate change when hosting the G20 last year, this will send a serious shudder through the Pacific and raise concern amongst its closest allies, including the United States and Europe.”
De Brum, who has repeatedly called on Australia to show regional leadership on climate change, said it was disappointing Abbott had not embraced clean energy more readily.
“If the rest of the world followed Australia’s lead, the Great Barrier Reef would disappear,” he said. “So would my country, and the other vulnerable atoll nations on Australia’s doorstep.”
Tony Abbott has defended yesterday’s announcement of Australia’s post-2020 emissions target, insisting it was “highly comparable” to what other industrialised countries have committed to.
“This is a very respectable figure, it’s environmentally responsible – and above all else, it’s economically responsible,” he told the ABC on Wednesday.
“We are confident we can achieve this without clobbering jobs and growth because in the end that’s what we want – we want more jobs and we want higher economic growth because that means more prosperity.
“We are not expecting a reduction in the coal industry. Obviously in the ordinary course of events some mines will close, but I suspect more mines will open.”
Environmentalists have lambasted Australia’s target, although comparisons to other countries are not straightforward due to the differing starting points for emissions cuts. According to Bloomberg New Energy finance, Australia’s emissions pledge is less ambitious than the EU and US, but more ambitious than Japan and South Korea.