Scientists pressure Australian PM to step up carbon cuts

In Australasia, Governments & Politics, News Headlines, Scientific Reports

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia’s leading climate change scientists Monday pleaded with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to override his top adviser on the issue and drastically slash carbon gas emissions.

Professor Ross Garnaut, commissioned by the government to review Australia’s response to the global problem of climate change caused by mounting carbon gases, has recommended a 10 percent drop from 1990 levels by 2020.

But 16 scientists, including Roger Jones, coordinating lead author of a United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, said emissions must decrease by 25 percent.

Garnaut, an economist and former diplomat, is due to bring his final report to the government on Tuesday.

In an open letter to Rudd, the scientists said unless the rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was halted soon, many millions of people would be at risk of heatwaves, drought, fire and floods.

As the world’s driest inhabited continent, Australia was especially vulnerable to these changes, they said.

“Failure of the world to act now will leave Australians with a legacy of economic, environmental, social and health costs that will dwarf the scale of national investment required to address this fundamental problem,” they said.

“Other nations have taken action and have committed to further action. We urge you to act decisively to maintain global momentum and to protect Australia’s future.”

One of the signatories to the letter, Professor Tony McMichael from the Australian National University, said unless Australia made cuts of at least 25 percent by 2020, it risked moving into dangerous climate change.

“We really must adopt bold and far-sighted targets to cut emissions as soon as possible,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“We mustn’t go soft on this one or we are all going to be in trouble, nationally and globally.”

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