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2050 CO2 targets should be higher, says commi -

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Reporter: Sabra Lane

ELEANOR HALL: A federal parliamentary committee has recommended that Australia aim to negotiate a
cut in carbon emissions of 80 per cent by 2050. It's an intriguing recommendation by the
Labor-dominated committee. The Federal Government's own target for that date is only 60 per cent.

But the committee says there is no way the world can hope to avoid the consequences of dangerous
climate change if it doesn't make deeper cuts to carbon emissions.

The committee's chairman Labor MP Kelvin Thomson has been speaking to Sabra Lane.

KELVIN THOMSON: We took a science-based, evidence-based approach to this problem. We came to the
conclusion that it's in Australia's interests to secure a global agreement to deliver deep cuts in
carbon emissions so as to stabilise concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at 450
parts per million or lower by 2050.

SABRA LANE: And so you've specifically said they should be cut by about 80 per cent?

KELVIN THOMSON: Yes, we have the view that it's hard to see how the world can get to 450 parts per
million by 2050 unless the developed countries are willing to cut emissions by 80 per cent by that

So given that we believe that the Australian Government should be willing to adopt a policy setting
which would reduce our emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 in the context of seeking agreement from
other developed countries to also cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

SABRA LANE: That's a bit of a backhander to the Government's policy because it's set 60 per cent as
a target by 2050.

KELVIN THOMSON: Well I believe that the negotiations at Copenhagen need to be based around the
science and that the science requires us to look seriously at 450 parts per million.

I believe the Government has been highly committed to action on climate change. It's ratified the
Kyoto Protocol, it's introduced a carbon pollution reduction scheme and it's committed to
increasing Australia's renewable energy target to 20 per cent by 2020. So I have no doubt that the
Government is very sincere in its desire to tackle global heating.

What we as a committee have done is to say that Australia and other developed nations need to be
thinking about cuts of the order of 80 per cent by 2050.

The other observation I'd make is that greenhouse gas emissions are generally measured against a
1990 baseline. This is rather onerous for Australia because we were expressly permitted to increase
our emissions by eight per cent in the first Kyoto period and also because the inaction of the
previous government has left us tracking for 20 per cent carbon emissions above 1990 levels by

So it may be that our commitment to an 80 per cent cut should be a commitment to cut by 80 per cent
from now on; that is to say a cut of two per cent every year from 2010 to 2050. Now that is
challenging but achievable. We can't change our past but we must change our future.

SABRA LANE: But still this is a smack in the chops for the Government's official policy.

KELVIN THOMSON: No, it's not that at all. The Government is quite committed to tackling climate
change and its actions have made that very clear. What we are saying is that in terms of the
negotiating position that Australia takes to Copenhagen it ought to be a negotiating position which
enables us to look at stabilising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million or
lower by 2050, and that's why we've made the recommendations we have.

SABRA LANE: Why haven't you made specific recommendations in regards to the 2020 target?

KELVN THOMSON: I don't think we had enough evidence before us to make recommendations concerning
every single year or every single possibility.

SABRA LANE: By having the five to 15 per cent target for 2020, do you think that that will be
enough to garner support at Copenhagen for the higher targets that you're talking about?

KELVIN THOMSON: Well this is a question of negotiation between Australia and the other countries
and in particular Australia and the other developed countries. As I say, the committee believes
that in order to get the action that we need from Copenhagen to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions
at 450 parts per million the developed countries need to be prepared to think about cuts of the
order of 80 per cent by 2050 and Australia needs to be part of that.

Barack Obama has indicated that the United States is considering cuts of 80 per cent by 2050.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Labor MP Kelvin Thomson speaking about those new targets to Sabra Lane.