Monday, September 8, 2008

Garnaut too soft on emissions target: expert

ABC News Online, Posted 2 hours 22 minutes ago 

Updated 1 hour 23 minutes ago

A leading Australian climate scientist says the greenhouse gas reduction targets proposed by the Government's climate change adviser Professor Ross Garnaut are too weak.

David Karoly is a Professor of Meteorology at Melbourne University and was a lead author on the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fourth report.

He says Professor Garnaut's proposed emissions cuts of 10 per cent by 2020 is not enough to minimise the dangerous effects of climate change on Australia and the rest of the world.

"The longer we wait to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will be in the atmosphere, the more climate change we will experience," he told Sabra Lane on ABC Radio's AM program.

"Australia needs to have substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and they need to be cut urgently if we wish to minimise dangerous climate change."

Professor Karoly says Professor Garnaut's approach to cutting Australia's emissions is too conservative and sends the wrong message to the rest of the world about Australia's intentions on climate change.

"It appears ... that he is taking an approach which is politically and economically palatable or acceptable, rather than taking the opportunity which we have perhaps once in this century to take bold action, for Australia to take a leading role in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

"It would probably send a message that Australia does not want to seriously consider or address the fact that it has the highest greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and would probably send a message that Australia is not serious on addressing greenhouse climate change and its very high emissions.

"He appears to be putting the problem in the politically 'too hard' basket and taking a weak or easy option, leaving it to other countries and other generations to solve the problem.

When he unveiled his 10 per cent target last Friday, Professor Garnaut said he preferred a cut of 25 per cent but believed it was not achievable.

Last week Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the Government would consider Professor Garnaut's recommendations.

But the Government will not conform what the 2020 emissions target will be until it releases more Treasury modelling later in the year.

Professor Garnaut's recommendations have already been criticised by environmental groups and the Greens for being too low.

Australia has committed to cutting 60 per cent of its 2000 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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