(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)
Australia is being urged to be honest about its efforts to combat climate change at a United Nations meeting in the German city of Bonn this week.
Australia has already given written answers to questions posed by China, the United States and the European Union about its emission reduction targets.
But the Climate Institute says the government’s responses “lack transparency”, and it’s hoping for clarity during direct questions on Thursday.
Phillippa Carisbrooke reports.
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Delegates from more than 190 nations are meeting in Bonn.
They’re trying to negotiate a new international agreement on limiting global warming that they hope can can be signed at a key climate meeting in Paris in December.
Among issues to be discussed are rules and processes to ensure countries’ actions are visible and transparent, and that nations are accountable for the actions they commit to.
Australia will be publicly scrutinized in Bonn about the impact of its domestic policies.
In written responses to questions asked by the United States, China, Brazil, the European Union and Switzerland, the government this week said it was “firmly committed” to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
But the Climate Institute says it failed to provide any estimate of the reductions it will deliver under current policy.
The Deputy Chief Executive of the Institute, Erwin Jackson, says the government is undermining its credibility by not being clear about its actions.
“The core of the Paris agreement is going to need to be one that ensures countries are transparent about the actions that they take; ensures that they are accountable for their domestic policies internationally – and Australia is undermining its case for that kind of agreement by not being transparent itself.”
Oxfam Australia says the government’s answers fail to make any clearer how Australia will meet its existing commitments, let alone the stronger commitments expected under a deal in Paris.
Its climate change policy advisor, Doctor Simon Bradshaw, says Australia’s international credibility is under threat.
“We are yet to put a commitment on the table for the post-2020 period when the new agreement will come into effect. A lot of eyes are on Australia at the moment and what we will bring to the table. And of course we have everything we need to be taking strong climate action; it’s just having the political will for it.”
The Climate Council describes Australia’s target of a 5 per cent cut to emissions as “woefully low”.
Chief Executive of the crowd-funded independent group, Amanda McKenzie, expects pressure to grow on Australia as more and more countries commit to post-2020 emission reduction targets.
“Countries doing more means other countries do more. Countries doing less, like Australia, can pull back international negotiations. So what we are hoping is that Australia does it part to build momentum towards Paris.”
The federal government says it will submit its post-2020 emissions reduction targets to the United Nations mid year, after consultation with the broader community.