European climate pledge ramps up pressure on Australia

Campaigns and Advocacy, Climate Change, Media Releases, News article written on the 07 Mar 2015

The European Union’s adoption of climate change targets for the new global climate agreement, to be finalized at the Paris conference in December, heaps more pressure on the Abbott Government to announce Australia’s own longer-term commitment to climate action, which must include support to developing countries to adapt to climate impact, Oxfam Australia said today.

Oxfam Australia’s climate change expert Dr Simon Bradshaw said with the EU putting its cards on the table, announcing emissions cuts to at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030, and with many other countries expected to make announcements this month, Australia was lagging well behind our competitors in preparing for a new global climate regime and low-carbon future.

“Australia must have an ambitious long-term plan of action on climate change that includes the rapid transition of our economy to renewable energy and redoubling support to developing countries to adapt to climate impacts,” Dr Bradshaw said.

Australia is yet to make any commitment to emissions reductions beyond 2020, when the Paris agreement is due to take effect. The Government has said it will announce its commitment – known as an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) – by ‘mid-year’, later than the March deadline that developed countries have been urged to meet.

“While it’s clear all rich countries still need to do more, momentum is building ahead of Paris and the international community will be demanding Australia come forward with an ambitious new commitment.

“Climate change is a major threat in the fight against hunger. Australia must do its fair part towards keeping warming below 2C and avoiding a future of unimaginable impacts upon the world’s poorest communities.”

Oxfam noted that while it is developing countries – those with the least to blame for climate change – that are bearing the brunt of our inaction, further delays would be very costly for Australia as well.

“The science is clear – we need to achieve zero emissions by mid-century at the latest. So do we want to begin now with a managed, equitable shift to prosperous zero-carbon future, or face a much more challenging and costly transition further down the line?”

The EU was the second party to formally submit its INDC to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It follows Switzerland, whose submission last week included a commitment to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.

While conceding that the EU commitment fell short and that the 28-nation group will need to up its collective game, Oxfam Australia said the announcement was proof that other advanced economies are well ahead of Australia in preparing for the new global climate regime and a low-carbon future.

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