WWF did not take the decision to support the Australian Government’s new Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme lightly. Our decision to support the announced changes including a 25% was taken because our key objective is to get an effective international agreement at the UN Climate Change Meeting in Copenhagen.
This will require developed countries as a group to reduce emissions between 25% and 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.
At present the UK, EU, Norway and Australia are the only developed countries which have adopted targets in this range and only Norway and Australia are members of the “Umbrella Group” – a loose group of non-EU developed countries (generally including Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New
Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the US) – which are key blocks to an effective agreement.
Breaking the lack of big emission reduction targets by members of the Umbrella Group was a key objective of WWF. I believe that this has been achieved by Australia by announcing a large target relatively to their present-day emissions.
Another issue that has arisen is the “comparability of effort” (i.e. the relative effort of different countries). There is no formula for measuring comparability of effort (one of the key problems in the negotiations) but some of those being discussed include emission cuts from Kyoto targets, relative economic impact in 2020 and per capita emissions in 2020.
Using these forms of measurement, Australia’s 25% compares well with those of the climate champions (namely the EU). For example, the Australian Government’s economic modeling indicates that a 14% cut by Australia would have a greater economic impact than a 41% cut on the
EU or 6% cut on the USA.
I am not suggesting that Australia should measure its effort by the standards of others but merely pointing out that a 25% will represent a real contribution to clean development. Indeed the key role that Australia can really play in the international response to climate change is to show that a very polluting economy can make a relatively rapid transition and affordable transition to a clean one.
The other great advantage of the Government’s announcement is that it succinctly states a national view of the key elements of an effective international agreement. This includes a goal of 450 ppm greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or less; an agreed (credible) global emission reduction trajectory; a 25% or greater cut for developed countries; a 20% or greater derivation from Business As Usual (BAU) for major developing countries with nomination of a peaking date.
This has not been done with the same precision by any countries outside the UK/EU and so it (hopefully) represents a significant step forward in the process of developing an international agreement in Copenhagen.
Irrespective of your decision to discontinue supporting WWF, thank you so much for your support in the past, it really is appreciated.