Sydney: The economic rise of China and India means climate change is occurring faster than previously thought, making efforts to fix the problem more urgent, an official Australian report found Thursday.
The government-commissioned report called for stronger international commitment to addressing climate change, saying current efforts “still fall far short of getting deep cuts in global emissions underway.”
The report written by economic professor Ross Garnaut was commissioned by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd before the centre-left leader was elected last November.
Since then, Rudd has made action on climate change the centrepiece of his government’s environmental policy, signing the Kyoto Protocol as his first official act in office after his predecessor John Howard refused for 11 years.
The report released Thursday was an interim version, with the final draft due later this year expected to form the basis of Rudd’s climate policy.
Garnaut said rapid industrialisation in China and India meant climate change was happening faster than expected and the solution lay in finding clean methods of achieving global economic expansion.
“Due to a sustained period of high economic growth led by China and India, the world is moving towards high risks of dangerous climate change more rapidly than has been generally understood,” he said.
“Faster emissions growth makes mitigation more urgent and more costly,” he said. “The challenge is to end the linkage between economic growth and emissions of greenhouse gases.”
Garnaut said the Rudd government needed to go beyond its existing commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050, although he did not nominate an alternative figure.
He also said Australia should set an interim target for 2020, saying a lead had been provided by the European Union, which last month pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.