By Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers
ABC News Online, Posted 1 hour 26 minutes ago
Updated 16 minutes ago
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The Government's climate change adviser has recommended Australia cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020, but the cut will be conditional on the next international agreement on climate change.
The cut would take just more than 1 per cent off Australia's GDP and would put a price on carbon of around $35 a tonne in 2020.
Professor Ross Garnaut, who today released his supplementary draft report on climate change at the National Press Club, says it would be preferable to push for a tougher cut of 25 per cent by 2020 but admits that target is not achievable.
Instead he has recommended that a practical way of reaching harder cuts is to set the the reduction target at 10 per cent.
However, this target is conditional on the next agreement on global emissions which will be discussed next year and are set to begin in 2013 when the current Kyoto agreement runs out.
The 10 per cent target has been modelled on an international agreement on capping global concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere at 550 parts per million.
Professor Garnaut says the path to achieving deeper cuts lies with showing that a 10 per cent emissions cut is achievable and the economy is able to sustain the cost.
A deeper cut of 25 per cent emissions would be based on a global cap of concentrations of carbon of 450 parts per million.
"My aim is to nurture the splendid chance that humanity can get it all together," he said.
"My judgement is that the best chance is in the next couple of years to lock up an achievable but extremely difficult agreement around 550 parts per million and that we use the confidence that the beginnings of progress will give us all to start designing another step."
The report says in the "unlikely" event of no international agreement to begin in 2013 Australia should commit to reduce emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, but modelling shows the price of carbon per tonne would then skyrocket to over $50.
Professor Garnaut says that without any action, Australia would be the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change out of any country in the developed world.
He also says that Australia has an important role to play in getting countries such as China on board to cut emissions.
Emissions trading scheme
Professor Garnaut says regardless of international agreement Australia should still begin an emissions trading scheme in 2010 with a carbon price initially to be set at $20 a tonne.
This price would then rise by a 4 per cent per year combined with inflation rises.
Professor Garnaut believes putting a price on carbon will significantly change families' and businesses' perceptions on the impact of pollution.
The report says an emissions trading scheme is the centrepiece of Australia's effort to cut emissions and great care and consideration must be taken to its design.
However after 2013 the price of carbon would no longer be set and the report predicts that the price would initially settle at around $23.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, Australia has committed to a 60 per cent cut of 2000 pollution levels by 2050.
Professor Garnaut will hand his final report to the Prime Minister at the end of September.
The Federal Government says it is committed to introducing an emissions trading scheme by 2010 and will be releasing more Treasury modelling on its cost by the end of this year.