We're 'carbon heavyweights'

AUSTRALIANS have the worst carbon emission record in the developed world, the Climate Commission reported on Tuesday.

In its third major report on climate change, the commission found Australia had the highest carbon emission level per person of all the developed nations.

While Australia was among a group of 20 "carbon heavyweights" in emissions, it ranked only 15th for overall emissions of developed nations.

The report also highlighted action around the globe, including some 33 countries and "18 sub-national jurisdictions" which were expected to introduce a carbon tax-like scheme by 2013.

It also said that technology already was available to cut global emissions by up to 65% of the cuts needed by 2035.

This replied heavily on changes in people's individual energy use.

"Using energy more efficiently could make a huge contribution to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change," report reads.

"The International Energy Agency found energy efficiency could technically deliver 65% of global greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to 2035."

Led by government-appointed chief commissioner Tim Flannery, the commission said any failure to meet our commitments on climate change would also damage Australia's international reputation.

While Mr Flannery told some media outlets that the Australian public had been misled about some aspects of climate change and Australian action, co-author climate commissioner Roger Beale told ABC the commission was not a "political body". Mr Flannery said claims that other nations were not playing their parts in combating carbon emissions were wrong.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the report confirmed the government was playing its part in the global effort, along with "90 countries representing 90% of the global economy have committed to reducing their carbon emissions".

Opposition Climate Change spokesman Greg Hunt said the report confirmed action should be taken, but not in the form of a tax, on the basis that Australia's emissions were still forecast to rise despite the tax.

The role of renewable energy in reducing carbon emissions was emphasised in the report, with investment in the renewable sector increasing "six-fold since 2004", to $257 billion in 2011 as the cost of producing renewable power "falling rapidly".

While the report recognised that much had been achieved, more needed to be done, with commissioners labelling the next 10 years "the critical decade".

"The global momentum achieved this decade will set the long-term foundations for tackling climate change effectively," it reads.

"This decade must set us up to turn our path around from high emissions to nearly zero emissions by 2050."

Key findings:

  • Momentum for climate change is growing, but more needs to be done.
  • Australia has role to play to shaping global response to climate change.
  • Technologies to tackle climate change already exist
  • It is in Australia's national interest to tackle climate change.
  • This is the critical decade for climate change action.

SOURCE: Climate Commission report, The Critical Decade, August 2012



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