US, Australia change tack

Won’t cut CO2 emissions

By Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava
Published: Monday 31 May 2010

The us and Australia have gone back on what little commitment they made to cut carbon emissions. The US climate change bill was stalled in the senate; the Australian government followed suit and deferred its carbon trading scheme for a year.

The US climate bill that aimed to cut industrial emissions by 20 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020 (7 per cent below 1990 levels) had failed to muster majority support in the senate last year. The US government’s latest move to push a modified bill (it reduced emissions target to 17 per cent) by getting the opposition on board also failed. Republican senator Lindsey Graham who drafted the new bill along with Democrat leader John Kerry and independent senator Joseph Lieberman withdrew his support to the bill on April 24, two days before the bill was to be unveiled in the senate.

In Australia, the government deferred its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme on May 4. The scheme requires polluters to buy licences to emit carbon; it was to be launched in July. The scheme aims at cutting emissions by five to 15 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020. Policy experts see the development as a fallout of the failed US energy bill. Raman Mehta of the non-profit ActionAid India said: “The non-commitment of the US would undermine the willingness of developed countries to act. This might even lead to an increased global pressure on countries like China and India for binding measures,” he added.

The biggest impact of the halt of the US climate bill would be on the Cancun summit in December, said Sanjay Vash-ist, director of Climate Action Network, South Asia. “I expected little from the US on climate change bill. It has never kept its commitment,” said Surya Sethi, former principal advisor (energy) to Planning Commission of India.

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