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Australia needs new climate plan - UN

21 Jul 2014, 4.35 pm GMT

Australia needs new climate plan - UN

21 July (Argus) — Australia will still need to come up with a coherent climate policy by March next year in order to comply with responsibilities agreed to at the Cop 19 conference in Warsaw, according to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres.

Australia last week repealed its carbon pricing mechanism, leaving the nation without any major policy for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

All nations agreed in Warsaw to present by March 2015 "intended nationally-determined contributions" to a global deal that the UN hopes to agree at global climate talks in Paris in December 2015.

"No country has yet said they are not going to do this," Figueres said. "It is now up to the Australian government and the Australian parliament to come up with an alternative policy."

But there is no requirement for nations to have contributions of any particular level of ambition. Asked whether the Australian government's Direct Policy — where businesses will be paid to undertake emission reduction projects such as tree planting initiatives — would be an adequate contribution to the UN process, Figueres would not be drawn.

"It is up to Australia to determine whether that makes sense and is globally responsible," she said. "What the world expects from Australia is very different from what it expects from small island states."

With the decision to abandon the carbon pricing mechanism Australia risks being left behind among progressive Asia-Pacific economies, according to World Bank Group vice-president Rachel Kyte. "The question I would ask if I was Australia is do I want to be in the Pacific when every one of my trading partners is on track to have an ETS (emissions trading scheme) or an economy that prices carbon in within the next two to three years?" she said. "The answer would be no."

Australia is the first developed nation to repeal carbon laws, despite having among the highest per capita emissions in the developed world. A report by the global carbon project in 2013 found that the nation was the 10th largest polluter globally in terms of per capita emissions.

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