THAT’S what the world’s largest polluters like China, the United States and Brazil are saying to Australia over its direct action plan to cut carbon emissions.
In climate questions submitted to the United Nations, the nations query whether Australia can meet its five per cent emissions reduction target by 2020 and why the country isn’t doing more.
China accuses Australia of unfairly expecting other advanced nations to set more ambitious targets than it has itself, directly asking the government to “clarify the fairness of such requirements”.
Beijing also asks if direct action’s centrepiece – a $2.55 billion emissions reduction fund – will do enough to compensate for scrapping the carbon tax.
The US asks if the government plans to compliment to scheme with other policies.
There’s nothing unusual about countries asking each other questions on climate policy. The process was put in place last year to assess post-2020 targets in the lead up to the UN climate conference in December.
But the Climate Institute says the questions show both “direct and veiled” criticism and clearly suggest Australia’s major trading partners aren’t convinced about direct action.
“The questions indicate a high level of scepticism on the effectiveness of the government pollution policies,” CEO John Connor said.
The US and China last year brokered an unprecedented deal which requires the US to slash emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2025 and China to peak emissions by 2030.
The Abbott government is yet to develop post-2020 emissions targets but has consistently said it would only do its fair share in line with trading partners.
Australia also agreed to a conditional target of 15 to 25 per cent based on “international action”, a term China now wants specifically explained.
Several of the 36 questions, which Australia has two months to answer, point to inconsistencies in information.
Direct action is in its infancy, with the first auction of the emissions reduction fund completed last week, however the environment department has admitted it has no modelling to show how much the policy will reduce emissions.
Critics say it won’t reach the target on its own.
Labor – the creators of the scrapped carbon tax – expected the Abbott government’s “weak stance” on climate change and “woeful polluters’ slush fund” to be called into question.
“Tony Abbott is dishing out billions in tax payers’ money to big polluters,” environment spokesman Mark Butler said.
Comment has been sought from Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s office.
SOME QUESTIONS ASKED OF AUSTRALIA
Will the emissions reduction fund constitute the primary measure implemented to replace the emissions trading scheme, or are other significant policies and measures being contemplated?
Considering the low level of ambition presented until now, as well as the historical data, does Australia intend to change its unconditional target in order to increase its level of ambition?
The emission level increased by 31 per cent in 2012, compared to that in 1990, excluding the land-use sector. Please provide further information regarding the major contributing sectors and corresponding regulation measures.
The Clean Energy Future Plan set out a number of PaMs to achieve the five per cent emission reduction target in 2020. However, emissions trading scheme and carbon farming initiative, as two core elements of this plan, have been replaced by the emissions reduction fund. Will it be enough to compensate for what was included in ETS and CFI?
Australia proposed a conditional target of 15 per cent or 25 per cent based on the level of international action. Please define the term international action specifically.
Could Australia provide information on the anticipated mitigation potential of the emissions reduction fund to meet the two conditional more ambitious emission reduction targets? (Source: UNFCCC)
Source: The Australian