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Australia rolls out new emission targets

Commitments fall short of peer economies, critics say.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Australia rolls out new emission targets
Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia rolls out new emissions targets to criticism that they fall short of peer economies. File photo by Ron Sachs/Pool/UPI | License Photo

CANBERRA, Australia, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The Australian government announced Tuesday it embraced measures to cut per capita emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government will cut emissions below a 2005 baseline by at least 26 percent by 2030. That equates to a 50 percent reduction per capita, while emissions per unit of gross domestic product will decline by 64 percent.

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"This is a responsible and achievable target," Abbott said in a statement. "Australia is making a strong and credible contribution to the international effort to tackle climate change."

The European Union set a goal of cutting emissions by 34 percent of the 2005 and Japan, which restarted its first nuclear power unit since the Fukushima disaster, aims for 25 percent. Under the Clean Power Plan announced last week, the United States set standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030.

The original proposal for the U.S. plan, two years in the making, called for a 23 percent reduction.

David Waskow, climate director for the World Resources Institute, said Australia's commitments are short of peer economies.

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"If the proposal stands as-is, other countries will have to pick up Australia's slack to tackle climate change -- including many developing countries with fewer resources," he said in an emailed statement.

A July report from the Australian Climate Change Authority called for an emissions reduction of 30 percent below a 2000 benchmark by 2025. Abbott said the commitments strike the right balance between economic and environmental responsibilities.

"We are committed to tackling climate change without a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme that will hike up power bills for families, pensioners and businesses," he said.

Nearby New Zealand announced last week it was setting its own climate path by phasing out coal power.

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