Australia Criticized for Setting “Weak” Carbon Emission Goals

  • Published on September 9th, 2008

This is a guest post by Meg Hamill who works at an environmental non-profit called LandPaths in partnership with the Open Space District of Sonoma County California.

Australia, the world’s 16th biggest polluter when it comes to carbon emissions, with five times more carbon pollution per capita than China, has come under criticism for setting carbon targets that are too low. Australian climate adviser Ross Garnaut was appointed in 2007 by prime minister Kevin Rudd to examine the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy.

Currently Australia is working on their Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme under a ‘cap-and-trade’ model. Last Friday Garnaut urged the Government to cut greenhouse gases by 10% on 2000 levels by 2020. He set a price of $20.00 Australian ($16.25 USD) per ton in the first years of Australian carbon trading.

The ‘cap-and-trade’ approach being created in Australia, and currently being used in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), sets a maximum amount of emissions that companies can created in a given time period. Each period, companies are given allowances equal to their total emissions during the period. If their overall carbon emissions in one period are below their cap, then the company has allowances to sell. If they are above their cap, they must buy allowances from companies that have exceeded their emissions reductions targets.

Each allowance is equal to one ton of Co2 emissions.

David John Karoly, a lead author for the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio that Garnaut “appears to be putting the problem in the political too-hard basket, and taking a weak or easy option, leaving it to other countries and other generations to solve the problem.”

Scientist Amanda Lynch, and fellow IPCC author with Karoly, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio: “The primary problem with that kind of level is that it doesn’t give sufficient signals to the market to restructure our ways of doing business in the fundamental ways we need to do right now.”

Image Credit: Photo from cogdogblog’s photostream on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution License

About the Author

Meg Hamill has been working in the environmental non-profit field in Northern California for the past six years. She currently works as a naturalist for LandPaths (in partnership with the Open Space District) in Santa Rosa California. She teaches poetry in the public school through California Poets in the Schools (CPITS) and has traveled extensively throughout South and Central America, picking up Spanish along the way. In 1999 she completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Meg holds an MFA in Creative Writing and has published two books of political/environmental poetry. Read more, buy books and e-mail Meg at


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