Australia’s emission targets – NGOs unimpressed

Photo: While Leaders argue over emission targets, the impact of climate change is obvious on the shores of Samoa, this picture from the village of Iliili over the weekend, the waves have cause severe erosion.

APIA:19 Feb 2009 – Prime Minister of Samoa this week said he is ‘content’ with the 5 to 15 percent midterm emission targets made by Australia saying that at least Kevin Rudd has set ‘something.’ “Look, for a long time they did not budge, so whether it be 20 percent or 5 percent, at least Australia has set something, because America certainly hasn’t,” Tuilaepa said.
In December 2008 Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced their midterm targets, lower than the internationally recommended targets, much to the dismay of climate activists who had hoped for higher emission cuts by Australia.

“We are not going to make promises that cannot be delivered,” Rudd told Australian media. “We are starting the scheme with appropriate and responsible targets, targets that are broadly consistent with other developed countries.”

The Australian Government made an unconditional commitment to reduce emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, irrespective of the actions of other nations, and support a higher target if an effective global agreement can be reached.

Currently Australia is the highest carbon emitting country in the Pacific, responsible for 1.2% of global emissions, and ranked 16th highest emitter worldwide, while Pacific islands combined account for a mere 0.03% of overall emissions.

Oxfam Australia says that Rudd should take more responsibility of Australia’s actions, and own up.

“I think any Government who is serious about taking the Pacific islands into account needs to call very strongly for warming to stay as far below as 2% as possible. The 5-15 per cent target below 2000 levels would not be credible for Australia, it would indicate that Australia is looking for other countries to pick up our slack and do our heavy lifting for us,” said Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator Julie-Anne Richards.

Locally, the civil societies were unimpressed by the targets. The Samoa Umbrella for Non Government Organisations (SUNGO) issued a statement shortly after Australia’s midterm target was announced.

“Although we do acknowledge that Australia has done much for the region and their verbal commitments to easing the impacts of climate change, the 5 – 15percent midterm targets reflects poorly on their responsibilities to the Pacific region.”

SUNGO spoke for the people saying: “It is us in the small islands of the Pacific who will suffer first and worse as a result of the impacts of climate change.”
Last week Australia signed an agreement with Samoa pledging $150 million over 3 years to assist in joint projects with an emphasis on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Tuilaepa says the agreement is a good thing.

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