Australia’s climate policies seen as not credible, by China, USA, Brazil

Abbott-in-hot-panChina and other big emitters challenge Australia over its climate change policies, The Age, Adam Morton and Tom Arup April 20, 2015  The world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, including China and the US, have questioned the credibility of Australia’s climate change targets and “direct action” policy in a list of queries to the Abbott government.

In the latest sign of diplomatic pressure over Canberra’s stance on global warming, China accused Australia of doing less to cut emissions than it is demanding of other developed countries, and asked it to explain why this was fair.

Beijing also questioned whether the Abbott government’s emissions reduction fund – the centrepiece of its direct action policy, under which the government will pay some emitters to make cuts – would be enough to make up for the axed carbon price and meet Australia’s commitment of a minimum 5 per cent emissions cut below 2000 levels by 2020.

The questions have been lodged with the United Nations for Australia to answer in the lead-up to the December climate summit in Paris, where the world is supposed to sign a global deal to combat climate change.

It comes as Australia is facing questions in diplomatic circles for not sending a minister or its chief climate change negotiator to a meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Washington DC, starting on Sunday.

Climate Institute deputy chief executive, Erwin Jackson, said the world saw Australia’s climate commitments as “woefully inadequate”.

To be opened by US Secretary of State John Kerry, the forum is meant to bring together ministerial representatives from 17 major countries in a bid to accelerate work on a climate deal. Australia is being represented by environment department head Gordon de Brouwer​.

In other questions posed to Australia through the UN:

  • The US asked whether the emissions reduction fund was the main replacement for carbon pricing, or whether Australia planned to introduce other policies.
  • Brazil accused Australia of having a “low level of ambition”, and asked whether it would boost its target to cut emissions more quickly. It also said Australia had effectively reduced the pace at which it cut industrial emissions by expanding the number of agricultural programs included in its greenhouse accounting, summarising: “This kind of action seems to make the level of ambition lower, not higher.”
  • Both China and Brazil noted Australia’s industrial emissions increased by more than 30 per cent between 1990 and this decade, and it was relying on accounting rules that reflected changes in emissions from the land to give it a chance to meet its targets.
  • The European Union questioned whether the emissions reduction fund could deliver a 15 or 25 per cent cut by 2020 – targets Australia has said it would embrace if other countries did the equivalent……….

Mr Jackson said analysts have found that China’s actions to date were likely to deliver the biggest policy-driven cut in emissions ever seen.

It is the world’s biggest investor in renewable energy, and has announced policies to build a clean energy system the size of the entire US electricity network in 15 years.

“China can do more, but is doing far more than Australia by a country mile at the moment,” he said.

“China is introducing carbon pricing while the Australian government tearing up legislation. China is increasing renewable energy targets while the Australian government is reducing it.”


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