RPT-COLUMN-Australia to remain climate laggard amid policy vacuum: Russell

Wed Aug 12, 2015 8:00am EDT
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By Clyde and Russell

LAUNCESTON, Australia Aug 12 (Reuters) - The only thing that's completely predictable about carbon emissions policies is that nobody will be satisfied.

The latest case in point is Australia, where the conservative government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday announced a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent of 2005 by 2030.

The target will form the basis of Australia's submission to global climate talks in Paris at the end of the year, and Abbott hailed the goal as meeting both the requirement of maintaining strong economic growth and strengthening action to mitigate climate change.

Environmental groups were quick to dismiss the target as lagging behind other developed nations, with the Australian Conservation Foundation calling it "defeatist" and showing "no faith in the ability of Australians to adapt".

Energy companies and miners were more cautious, in keeping with their status as businesses with shareholders, but some also expressed disquiet.

The Minerals Council of Australia called the target an "ambitious goal" that will "impose strains on the Australian economy, especially export and import-competing industries."

The Energy Supply Association, which represents generators and power retailers, called it a "credible starting point" that called for equally credible policy responses.

The need for a re-think on carbon policies goes to the heart of the issue, and it's here the real problems lie.   Continued...