Australia meets 2020 emissions target

Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt Source: AAP

Environment Minister Greg Hunt says Australia has met its 2020 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is estimated to exceed it.

Australia has met its 2020 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by five per cent from 2000 levels, Environment Minister Greg Hunt says.

Releasing a national update from the Environment Department ahead of global climate talks in Paris next week, Mr Hunt said estimates show Australia will exceed its target by 28 million tonnes.

"Critics have claimed time and time again that we would not achieve our 2020 target ... Today, I can advise formally that the critics are wrong," he told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

Public support for better climate targets

Almost two thirds of Australians believe the federal government should be prepared to boost its emissions reduction targets in order to reach a global deal, a new poll shows.

The Lowy Institute poll found 62 per cent of people think the government should be prepared to move on its 2030 target of 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels in the interests of an agreement.

It comes before the United Nations climate change conference in Paris next week, where it is hoped 196 countries will sign an historic agreement to curb emissions.

"It's very clear that Australians want our government to contribute to a global agreement on climate change in Paris, if necessary by committing to stronger emissions reduction targets," Lowy Institute executive director Michael Fullilove said.

The telephone poll of 1000 Australians conducted last month found 36 per cent wanted the government to stick to its targets no matter what other countries did to combat global warming. 

The federal government maintains its targets are among the world's most ambitious in terms of per capita reductions and is pushing for five-year reviews to force countries to consider their goals.

However, the targets have been criticised as inadequate by climate groups, which claim they place Australia at the back of the developed country pack.

Negotiations in Paris are not likely to centre on individual country targets, but rather on climate financing and compliance and transparency.

Poor nations face soaring costs if warming limit exceeded: Oxfam

Developing nations could suffer economic losses of $1.7 trillion per year by 2050 unless a new UN deal paves the way for stronger action to curb global warming and more aid for coping with climate change impacts, anti-poverty charity Oxfam said.

Talks involving 195 nations in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 are likely to reach an agreement to tackle climate change, amid impressive growth in renewable energy and strengthened political will, the international development agency said on Wednesday.

But "Paris is not being hailed as the silver bullet that will save the climate," Oxfam warned in a report on the upcoming negotiations.

National plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, put forward this year by over 170 countries as the basis for a new deal, will result in global temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius or more above pre-industrial times, Oxfam said.

That would be higher than a 2-degree ceiling governments already endorsed in 2010. "We are seeing growing momentum for a climate deal but what is on the table so far is not enough," said Oxfam Executive Director Winnie Byanyima.

"We need further cuts to emissions and more climate funding so vulnerable communities - who are already facing unpredictable floods, droughts and hunger - can adapt to survive."

With warming of 3 degrees, developing countries would need to spend an additional $270 billion a year by 2050 on measures to adjust to more extreme weather and rising seas, taking their annual adaptation costs to $790 billion, the report said.

Without that money, economic damage would be $600 billion more each year by mid-century than under a 2-degree temperature rise, leaving them facing annual losses of $1.7 trillion.

Oxfam urged countries to agree in Paris to raise their emissions reduction ambitions every five years, starting in 2020 when a new deal is expected to take effect.

Developing countries should get support to do this, and rich nations must take on their fair share of the burden because they have emitted much of the carbon pollution to date, Oxfam said.

A new deal should also enshrine a long-term goal where wealthy states lead the way in phasing out fossil fuels, it added.

Source: AAP

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