Government will not wait for Garnaut


THE federal Government is committed to a short-term goal to slash greenhouse-gas emissions, despite warnings from a key adviser.

The government has promised to set a short-term target after considering a report from economist Professor Ross Garnaut, who it has asked to examine the economic costs of tackling climate change. Professor Garnaut is due to deliver his report in the second half of this year.

Earlier this week, he said it was more important to achieve long-term targets and the market should decide how quickly to cut emissions.

"By focusing on a particular date you may diminish the environmental impact of what you’re trying to do and you may increase the economic costs of it," Professor Garnaut said.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, in Honolulu for talks with nations responsible for 80 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, said the Rudd Government would deliver on a short-term greenhouse gas reduction target, regardless of Professor Garnaut’s comments.

"We have said very clearly that we will set an interim target," she told ABC Radio today.

"We think targets are important because they do send a signal to the market and to the community and they also give an impetus to government (for) policy action."

Senator Wong said there was some value in Professor Garnaut’s comments.

"We have stated we will set an interim target but we have also stated that we will consider very closely the advice of Professor Garnaut," she said.

Major greenhouse-gas emitters, including the United States, China and India, must be part of an effective agreement to tackle climate change, Senator Wong said.

She said nations in Honolulu had discussed setting a long-term emissions goal.

Following United Nations climate change talks in Bali last month, the White House expressed "serious concerns" about a pact to negotiate emissions cuts of between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020.

"The United States understands our position and the position of all parties and itself has said it sees … this meeting as an important contribution to the UN process," Senator Wong said.

"If we don’t have the United States, India and China .. involved in these global negotiations and ultimately part of an effective agreement to tackle climate change, then we don’t have a response to climate change across the globe."

Senator Wong said tackling climate change was a crucial issue for the US, regardless of who becomes the next president.

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