The Rudd Government’s woefully insufficient target range has ignored the urgency of the science which tells us that developed countries have to make deep cuts now, the Make Poverty History coalition said today.
Make Poverty History co-chair Andrew Hewett said the mid-term target announcement of 5 – 15 per cent showed a failure of leadership by Australia, whose performance at the recent UN climate negotiations had been lack-lustre.
“Australia claims to punch above its weight in international affairs but this time, it collapsed in the ring before the fight even began,” Mr Hewett said.
Mr Hewett said despite the Prime Minister’s rhetoric on the importance of early action, the target range had ignored the science that clearly told us we needed to take deep emissions cuts now.
At least 25 to 40 per cent is the range identified by the IPCC that developed countries need to take to keep global warming to moderate levels.
“Not only are we destroying the Great Barrier Reef, but if all developed countries took such a low target it would result in disappearance of large glaciers in the Himalayas, causing water shortages for a quarter of China’s population and hundreds of millions of people in India,” he said.
“Many small island nations would be doomed, and it would mean up to 30 per cent decrease in water availability in Southern Africa, South America, the Mediterranean, resulting in water shortages for millions of people. It means billions of people globally affected by water stress, crop yields failing in all regions, and up to half a billion more people exposed to malaria.”
Prime Minister Rudd stated the importance of all major emitters, including those in the developing world, being part of a global agreement.
“To expect the same level of action from countries that are trying to bring their populations out of poverty – when they did not cause the problem we now face – is just not fair,” Mr Hewett said.
“Both the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol make it very clear that developed countries, which are responsible for the climate change we have experienced to date, have to reduce their emissions first and fastest.
“As the highest per capita polluter in the OECD – as Mr Rudd emphasised today – and one that has become wealthy in doing so, Australia is avoiding doing our fair share to address climate change, which will continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in poor countries.”
Make Poverty History co-chair Tim Costello said Australia continued to lag behind other developed countries including the UK, which had committed to a 26 – 32 per cent target by 2020 on 1990 levels.
“What we needed today was a target set at the top end of 25 – 40 per cent, which is Australia’s fair share, no more, no less,” Mr Costello said.
“What we got was an expectation that others will do our heavy-lifting.”
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