By Lenore Taylor
12 November 2013
(theguardian.com) – Tony Abbott has confirmed that his government has abandoned its longstanding policy to reduce Australia's emissions by between 5% and 25% of 2000 levels by 2020 – a crucial and internationally scrutinised goal that had retained bipartisan support since 2009, throughout Australia's tumultuous political debate over climate policy.
Asked whether the Coalition still supported the target range as UN climate talks began in Warsaw without any political representation from Australia, the prime minister told journalists: “Australia will meet our 5% emissions reduction target, but this government has made no commitments to go further than that. We certainly are in no way looking to make further binding commitments in the absence of very serious like binding commitments from other countries, and there is no evidence of that.”
In fact, Abbott and the environment minister, Greg Hunt, have regularly repeated a Coalition commitment to increasing Australia's emissions reduction target to up to 25% under a specific set of conditions for global action set down in 2009 and accepted by both major parties. […]
Guardian Australia also reported last week that Cabinet was also rethinking Australia's involvement in the Green Climate Fund, an international fund to help developing countries cope with the impact of climate change.
Abbott confirmed that the government would be making no further commitments of funding to the Green Climate Fund.
Labor's environment spokesman, Mark Butler, said: "It's no real surprise to see Tony Abbott walking away from his earlier support for Australia's commitment to reduce carbon pollution by a minimum 5% by 2020 with a higher target range subject to certain conditions. He's made it clear on a number of occasions that he sees no particular problem with carbon pollution.
“This week he hopes to abolish the legislated cap on Australia's carbon pollution and allow the big polluters open slather in the future. And he's got no policy to put in place that has any prospect of actually bringing our carbon pollution down.”
A spokesman for the Australian Conservation Foundation said: “Abandoning the commitment Australia has repeatedly made to the international community to increase our target to 25% would make Australia a deal wrecker.
“Abandoning the election commitment to reduce pollution by 5%–25% wilfully ignores the fact that Australians want more action on climate change, not less, regardless of how its achieved.” [more]