Back to All News

Cancun agreements raise the stakes: Targets must now be lifted to keep process alive

The agreement reached in Cancun overnight to keep the global climate negotiations alive significantly raises the stakes for climate politics in Australia, the Australian Greens said today.

The better than expected result from the talks rests on all countries, including Australia, taking much more ambitious targets to next year's negotiations in Durban, South Africa.

"The Cancun agreement keeps the global negotiations alive on the understanding that everybody needs to lift their sights to stronger action if we are to deliver a safe climate," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

"The agreement has delivered much needed momentum for the global negotiations, but the only way to keep that momentum growing - and to deliver a safe climate - is for countries like Australia to take much more ambitious promises to Durban next year.

"The Australian government has no choice but to leave behind the inexcusably weak 5-25% target range and lift it to the Bali roadmap agreement of 25-40%.

"The world's poorest countries made very significant concessions in these negotiations in order to keep the UN process alive.

"Next time around, rich countries like Australia will be expected to make similarly substantial contributions, in the form of much more ambitious emissions reductions, more generous offers of financing and good faith in accounting rules for forest carbon.

"Australia introducing an ambitious carbon price in the second half of 2011 will help deliver a solid agreement in Durban. Locking in 5% cuts will only help to undermine the global process."

The Cancun agreements recognise that targets on the table are far too weak to keep global warming to no more than 2C, and also note that 2C may even be too much. They also deliver the beginnings of agreement on financing from developed countries to the developing world, and how that financing should be allocated.

"The most concerning signs from Cancun are that, once again, our planet's forest carbon stores will be used to cook the books. The atmosphere will see the emissions, even if the national accounts don't.

"Transparent accounting and the rights of indigenous people are critical and far from assured.

"Setting business as usual growth projections as 'baselines' for forest emissions accounting will allow countries like Australia to ignore any emissions from logging as long as we don't log more than we currently plan to. Many millions of tonnes of pollution going into the atmosphere will simply be written off the books.

"According to calculations by environment groups, Australia's already unacceptable 5% target would be reduced to as little as 1% if this accounting rort is accepted.

"Cancun has saved the climate negotiations, but now Australia and everybody else has to deliver the action we need to save the climate."

Back to All News