Australia plans to reduce carbon emissions by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Tuesday, a target critics say falls well short of its fair share globally.
Abbott, however, said his conservative government’s target was “fairly in the middle” of those made by other economies which will be taken to an upcoming global climate conference in Paris.
“We have come to the position our 2030 emissions reduction target will be in the range of 26 to 28 percent,” Abbott told reporters in Canberra.
“There is a definite commitment to 26 percent but we believe under the policies that we have got, with the circumstances that we think will apply, that we can go to 28 percent.”
With its heavy use of coal-fired power and relatively small population of 23 million, Australia is considered one of the world’s worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters.
Abbott has been widely seen as a reluctant advocate for fighting climate change, having scrapped a controversial tax on carbon emissions by industrial polluters and consistently promoted the coal export industry.
He said Tuesday strong and effective policies were needed to tackle the issue, and Australia was reducing emissions in part through a carbon abatement programme — whereby energy efficient companies are rewarded.
But he said Australia’s commitment to the environment had to be balanced against economic growth and jobs, and did not need to be the strongest in the world.
“Our 26 to 28 percent target, it’s better than Japan. It’s almost the same as New Zealand. It’s a whisker below Canada,” said Abbott.