Australia stuck in the climate past

Today's announcement by Tony Abbott that Australia will only aim to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 is disastrously inadequate.

In Parliament today the Prime Minister said, "we are not going to clobber the economy to protect the environment."

It is shocking that in the year 2015, Australia's leader can say that taking action on climate change would hurt our economy.

The opposite is true. Acting on climate change is good for our economy, our health, and our environment.

Abbott's suggested targets are far lower than what the government's own Climate Change Authority was calling for (a 40 to 60 per cent cut on 2000 levels by 2030). They mean that by 2030 Australia will still be the worst carbon emitter per person on the planet.

The target is not enough to avoid warming of two degrees or more, which is the globally accepted maximum if we are to avert catastrophic, runaway climate change.

When our community made a long term plan for the future, the top priority for many people was taking meaningful action on climate change. That's why the City of Sydney has a target to reduce emissions across our local government area by 70 per cent (of 2006 levels) by 2030.

That target is nearly triple what the Australian government is proposing.

Emissions across our area have already been cut by 12 per cent amid strong economic growth. Our 'carbon intensity' (greenhouse emissions per dollar of economic output) has fallen by nearly 30 per cent.

As political leaders from around the world move towards an international agreement at the UN Climate Conference in Paris at the end of this year, the targets announced today by the Australian Government simply aren't good enough.

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