Australia commits to reduce emissions 25 per cent by 2020

5 May 2009

The Australian Government has committed to reduce Australia's carbon pollution by 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 if the world agrees to an ambitious global deal to stabilise levels of {CO2} equivalent at 450 parts per million or lower by mid century.

The Government says this new commitment follows extensive consultation with environment advocates on the best way to maximise Australia's contribution to an ambitious outcome in international negotiations at Copenhagen this December.

Up to five per cent of this target could be met by purchasing international credits, such as avoided deforestation credits, using its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) revenue no earlier than 2015.

In its White Paper released last year, the Government emphasised clearly that an ambitious agreement to stabilise levels of {CO2}-equivalent at 450 parts per million or lower by mid century would be squarely in Australia's national interest.

At that time it assessed prospects for such an ambitious deal in the near term were challenging but since then believes international developments have improved prospects.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said: "The Obama administration has already injected a great deal of confidence in the process through its unambiguous commitment to play a leading role in global efforts to limit climate change.

"President Obama has reinforced his election commitments to mid and long term carbon pollution reduction goals and to introduce an emissions trading system similar to the CPRS.

"His Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate is helping drive progress in UN negotiations for a global agreement.

"The United Kingdom has also recently announced a strengthening of its 2020 target for reducing carbon pollution."

The Climate Group's Australian Director Rupert Posner said: "It is widely recognised that a successful global deal at Copenhagen is critical if we are to effectively tackle climate change. Australia's commitment to do its fair share is a welcome announcement that adds momentum as we head towards Copenhagen; all countries will have to push at the outer limits of what is possible if we are to have an agreement that is consistent with what the science tells us is needed."

The Australian Government has announced that a Ratification Review will be established in addition to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) Process to assess whether the terms of any global agreement meet the conditions set out for Australia to adopt the 25 per cent target.

Mr Rudd said that should the world achieve this ambitious agreement, the Government would seek a new election mandate for increased 2050 targets beyond its existing commitment to reduce emissions by 60 per cent.

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