Australia’s Climate Change Authority nudges country’s emissions target

Ahead of the historic climate change summit taking place this November in Paris, attending countries have been encouraged to bring to the table their own national emissions reduction plans. While some countries have shown ambitious goals (such as China, pledging to reduce emissions by 60-65% of 2005 levels by 2030), others have not been quite so bold.

Australia, a country of 24 million people and a GDP of $1.25 trillion, originally proposed a modest decrease of only 5% from 2000 levels by 2020. But the Climate Change Authority, an Australian government agency concerned with abating or mitigating climate change, this week proposed that the number be closer to 30% reduction by 2025. The CCA defends its more ambitious proposal, saying:

“It is credible in terms of what the science requires – and what many comparable countries are doing – to move the world back towards a global emissions reduction path consistent with a reasonable chance of limiting the increase in global warming to 2 °C. It would also send a credible signal to domestic and international stakeholders alike that the government is intent on playing a leadership role in guiding Australia’s long-term transition to a sustainable, low-carbon world.”

Despite the sixfold increase in the country’s commitment to emissions reduction, there has been very little backlash from other parts of the government. Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop described the revised target as “economically responsible, proportionate and, I believe, appropriate for Australia.” Environment Minister Greg Hunt is (understandably) enthusiastic as well, challenging the country to double down on its new goal: “I’m confident we can do better…We are going to meet and beat the target to 2020.”

As countries around the world shape their emissions policies for the next 5, 10, or 100 years, anticipation and enthusiasm builds for Paris 2015, and the great climate innovations that will surely arise from the summit.

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