Australia plans to cut carbon emissions by at least 26 percent

The Federal Government is going to announce a plan to cut carbon emissions by at least 26 percent of 2005 levels by 2030.

Currently, Australia is aiming to reduce emissions by 5 percent by 2020, based on the level of 2000. The level is far below recommendations by its own Climate Change Authority.

Changing the base year of emissions from 2000 to 2005 makes the Government’s target easier to compare to the United States and Canada. However, 2005 was a particularly high year of emissions.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s cabinet agreed on a target of 26 to 28 percent in a meeting overnight. Speaking ahead of the meeting, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government wanted policies that would not harm Australia’s economic growth.

“It is very important for us to make a strong and responsible contribution to global efforts to reduce emissions, but one which does not detract from our economic prosperity moving forward,” Cormann said.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and iron, also one of the largest carbon emitters on a per capita basis due to its reliance on coal-fired power plants.

Abbott is a strong supporter of the coal industry and scrapped a carbon tax and an emissions trading plan last year.

The Australian leader has also cut the country’s renewable energy target and abolished the Climate Commission, which provide public information on the effects of global warming.

The Climate Change Authority said that Australia needed to reduce emissions by 40 to 60 percent by 2030, based on the level of 2000, if it was going to meet an international agreement to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.