Greens protest over Australian carbon targets
Environmentalists staged protests in Australia's major cities yesterday to demand tougher greenhouse emissions targets after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised to curb emissions by five to15 per cent by 2020.
Mr Rudd announced the new targets on Monday, angering green groups but winning support from business, as he unveiled details of a carbon trading scheme set to start in July 2010, just months before he is due to call national elections.
Analysts said the cautious carbon targets were designed to appease business and protect jobs in the face of the global economic slowdown, and could help Mr Rudd's re-election hopes.
"He's made a decision based on winning votes, rather than winning plaudits from the green movement," said Monash University political analyst Nick Economou.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said Mr Rudd had failed to show leadership on climate change, while the Age newspaper's political editor Michelle Grattan said Mr Rudd's plans were aimed at securing conservative political support in Parliament.
"Kevin Rudd's emissions trading blueprint is laden with caution rather than vaulting ambition, as the government tries to navigate through a dreadful economic outlook and a hostile Senate," Mr Grattan wrote.
Mr Rudd won power in November last year, in part on the back of his promise to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which commits developed nations to curb greenhouse emissions blamed for global warming, and his promise to introduce carbon trading in 2010.
But green groups wanted Australia, the world's biggest coal exporter, and which also relies on coal for its own electricity generation, to set an example for developing countries by promising to curb emissions by at least 25 per cent by 2020.