Friday, February 22, 2008

Climate change report exposes deep divisions

Chris Hammer
February 23, 2008
The Age

ROSS Garnaut's interim report on climate change has opened up divisions at both ends of the political spectrum.

On the left, the Greens are attacking the Government for not embracing the need for more ambitious greenhouse reduction targets, while on the right, backbenchers are expressing dissent from the Coalition's official position of keeping an open mind on targets.

The report, by Canberra's top adviser on climate change, suggests the Government's pre-election promise of a 60% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050 may be inadequate. Instead it suggests cuts of between 70% and 90% may be required.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong appeared to confirm in Senate estimates yesterday that the Government would not revise its 2050 target during this term of government.

When asked by The Age if this was the case, the minister's office said: "The Government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050 — the commitment we took to the last election."

Greens senator Christine Milne said: "They have now pig-headedly locked into a target that the whole scientific community realises was set in 2000 and is completely outdated."

But environmental groups remain broadly comfortable with the Government's stance.

Conservation Foundation executive director Don Henry met ministers in Canberra yesterday, telling The Age afterwards: "We would urge the Government to have a close read of the report and not to close off any options."

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said: "I don't think 60% will stand the test of time and smart players in the market place will be factoring greater cuts in."

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