Abbott warns against “harmful” policies as Australia readies post-2020 target

Published 06:51 on August 10, 2015  /  Last updated at 06:51 on August 10, 2015  /  Asia Pacific, Australia  /  No Comments

Australia will make a strong contribution to efforts to fight global warming, but will not risk jobs or prosperity, prime Minister Tony Abbott said as the government is preparing to announce its post-2020 carbon target, which media reported Monday might be set at 25-28% below 2005 levels.

Australia will make a strong contribution to efforts to fight global warming, but will not risk jobs or prosperity, prime Minister Tony Abbott said as the government is preparing to announce its post-2020 carbon target, which media reported Monday might be set at 25-28% below 2005 levels.

Abbott made his promise on Sunday, but did not signal any move in policy position as he stressed his government “will never resort to harmful policies like a carbon tax or an ETS”.

The cabinet is finalising the post-2020 target, and is expected to announce on Tuesday how much greenhouse gas emissions it is prepared to offer to reduce by 2025 or 2030.

Media reported Monday that some cabinet members argued for a target of 25-28% below 2005 levels by 2030, but that some ministers were reluctant. According to the Guardian, Australia might end up setting a lower target for 2025, which would create a possibility to increase 2030 ambition levels later.

The Guardian said the government has commissioned modeling from economist Warwick McKibbin which according to the paper’s sources said showed an ambitious target would not be much more expensive than meeting a modest target.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt, meanwhile, attacked a target of 40-60% cuts below 2005 levels floated by the opposition Labor party.

Using modeling from four years ago, the Daily Telegraph on Monday ran a story saying Labor’s target, which would include setting up an ETS, would cost A$600 billion ($444 bln).

“Under Labor’s new supercharged carbon tax, the price would need to skyrocket to $209 per tonne to achieve a target of around 44 per cent below 2000 levels by 2030,” Hunt said.

Labor dismissed the claims, saying the numbers were out of date as renewable energy had become cheaper and energy demand had dropped since the calculations were made.

Meanwhile, the Climate Institute released a poll showing that 76% of Australians wanted to shift responsibility for cutting GHG emissions to the polluters, instead of on taxpayers, as is the case under the government’s Direct Action policy.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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