From worst polluter to climate leader, Australia’s Greens have plausible plan – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – November 23, 2015)

Nov 23 – How do you go from being the worst per capita polluter to among the lowest in just 15 years? The Australian Greens believe they have the answer, and surprisingly it could actually work, as long as it’s tweaked to find some role for coal and natural gas.

At the outset, it’s worth noting that the Greens’ vision has virtually no chance of becoming government policy, given the party holds only one seat in Australia’s lower house of parliament and just 10 of the 76 in the upper house Senate.

But in releasing their policy on Nov. 22, just ahead of next month’s Paris Climate Conference – known as COP21, the Greens are certainly putting the issue of what actions a top polluter such as Australia should take on the agenda.

Among the 15 biggest polluters worldwide, Australia has the highest per capita emissions, ahead of Canada, the United States and Saudi Arabia, according to Australia’s Climate Change Authority that advises the government.

However, on a total emissions basis, Australia ranks 13th, with emissions totalling just less than 6 percent of those of top polluter China.

Australia’s conservative Liberal Party government has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, a target the Climate Change Authority says is not enough if the country wants to help meet a global plan to limit warming by 2 degrees centigrade versus the pre-industrial era.

This target is well below the 41 percent reduction by 2030 from 2005 levels pledged by the United States, while China has said its emissions will peak by 2030 and decline thereafter.

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