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5/20 ?!?

  • December 15th, 2008
  • Posted by 7thmin

eu-industry-scape.jpgCLIMATE CHANGE: The Australian government has announced a minimum target of 5% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 – amid both condemnation from the greens movement, and arguments that it may still match the more ambitious figures set up by the European Union.


The targets set out in Canberra by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (15.12.08) are for 5-15% reductions in CO2 based on 2000 levels, in the coming twelve years.

The 15% limit would depend on other countries offering a similar performance.

The scheme is outlined in a government White Paper that follows recommendations already put forward by this year’s Garnaud inquiry into climate change; the government has stopped short of stage-two recommendations from that report, to take the cuts up to 25% later – saying, again, many other countries would need to join in.

(An objective of 60% cuts by 2050 has been kept on the books).


The Australian Greens party and a line-up of conservation interests condemned the determination as weak, not enough to match globally recognised needs, or to save the Australian ecology – the Great Barrier Reef of the Murray Darling river basin.

It was called a buckling-under to industry lobbies on the part of Kevin Rudd, whose Labor Party won power at elections one year ago on a platform of environmental care, and with a strong youth vote.

One young woman protestor symbolically disrupted his announcement speech at a media luncheon.

Government supporters were pointing out substantial differences between Australia’s situation and carbon reduction standards set by the EU, noting that population in Australia was set to grow, not stabilise as in Europe – so by arithmetic a 5% cut would mean similar sacrifices per capita. (See EUAustralia, “20-20-20 Says EU”, 13.12.08).


Compensation has been laid out for extra costs and sacrifices; another few turns of the government money tap already going at some force to provide economic stimulus against the financial crisis.

It includes nearly $A4-billion support for coal-fired power stations forced to pull back and pull out; free carbon trading credits for pollution-prone industries, and a package of pension benefits and tax offsets – A$6-billion — for households facing higher costs as a result of the change.

Industry sources said some of their warnings about a blow to export industries, not least minerals and coal, had been heard, but there’d still be a further slow-down.

“This is a substantial commitment and will require us to turn around current trends, which if there is no policy change have Australian emissions growing by around 20 % between 2000 and 2020”, Mr Rudd said.


The EU meanwhile continued to promote its weekend summit decision (12.12.08, at Brussels) to put into law a set of sweeping changes aimed at creating a “low-carbon economy” — seeking a 20% carbon gas reduction on 1990 figures by 2020.

Its statement:

“European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says that the EU’s political agreement on climate change and energy is of momentous importance. ‘The leaders of Europe’s 27 Member States have agreed to work together to transform Europe into a low-carbon economy. At the heart of this success has been the EU’s determination to stay focused on the overiding goal: the 20-20-20 targets for 2020. A 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% share for renewable energy and a 20% boost to energy efficiency. The commitment to reach these targets remains 100% intact’.

“The European Council, meeting on 11-12.12.08 in Brussels, approved a European Economic Recovery Plan equivalent to about 1.5% of the GDP of the European Union (a figure amounting to about €200-billion – A$405.2b,,15.12.08); and also reached agreement on the energy/climate change package. Council/Conclusions12Dec2008 and EnergyClimateChange12Dec2008”.


Delegation of the European Commission to Australia and New Zealand, “Climate change deal made by European Heads of State and Government”,
[email protected], 15.12.08

Emma Rodgers, “Rudd locks in 5% emissions cut”, ABC News,,(15.12.08).