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COP17: Australia to leverage carbon price momentum

25 November 2011
COP17: Australia to leverage carbon price momentum

Caroline Bayliss, Director, The Climate Group Australia, takes a look at the Australia negotiating position heading into COP17 in Durban next week, as part of a series of articles from our international policy staff looking at the position of key countries in the UN climate talks.

Emerging after a long battle to establish carbon pricing in Australia, the Labor Government now faces the challenge of using Australia’s recent momentum to leverage increased action from the global community at COP17. 

International climate change negotiations are a core concern of the Labor Government – not least because one of the key criticisms of the government’s Clean Energy Future Package was that Australia is getting too far ahead of international action and that its three year fixed carbon price is much higher than the current EU price.

Both the Government and the Opposition have established a clear link between electoral support for a the Clean Energy Future legislation and the strength of international climate action.

While Australia has a target of 80% emissions reduction on 2000 levels by 2050, its shorter term target is contingent on internationally agreed climate change targets and commitments. Its 2020 target is to cut emissions by at least 5% compared with 2000, but the Government has stated that it may commit to decrease carbon pollution by 15-25% in that timeframe, depending on the scale of global action.

The Australia-Norway climate roadmap

In a submission to the UNFCCC process, Australia and Norway (both signatories to the 1997 Kyoto treaty) have proposed a new roadmap for international climate negotiations, including proposed outcomes for Durban.

The Australia-Norway roadmap states that a binding global pact to limit global emissions should not be finalized until 2015, as these two countries believe that it will take four years to agree a legally-binding deal that includes emission targets for developed and developing countries.

The submission contends that, "A stepwise approach from Durban to 2015 will provide time and space for countries to build confidence and capacity, and ensure a robust outcome over time." It also states that at the UN climate summit in Durban, countries should launch a process to negotiate a new treaty and begin evaluating and scaling up emission pledges made last year at Cancun. It is based on an expectation that the world's poorest countries will not take on any legally binding obligations.

The submission calls for the 2011-2014 period to establish carbon accounting rules, international oversight procedures, and the scaling-up of mitigation ambition in order to meet the 2C warming goal agreed to at the end of COP16 in Cancun. 

Read about the UNFCCC Australia-Norway roadmap

Further reading

For those interested in more analysis on the prospects for COP17, the following sources and are recommended.

Damian Ryan, Senior Policy Manager, The Climate Group, will also be writing news and analysis throughout COP17, and providing a more in-depth post-COP Briefing after the events. Keep up to date on our website and by following him on Twitter during COP17. Read Damian's Pre-COP17 Briefing.

Our international policy teams are also commenting on key regional positions in the lead-up to Durban; read about India, the US Europe and China.

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