Don’t sacrifice Australia’s wildlife and natural wonders to Garnaut pessimism
Australians can not sit back and let the Australian Government adopt emission targets that will render species extinct and sacrifice natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef.
Professor Ross Garnaut has today, albeit reluctantly, recommended the Australian Government set an emission target of 10% on 2000 levels by 2020, on the assumption the international community will only reach agreement on emission scenarios that stabilise levels of atmospheric carbon at 550ppm.
“Accepting such low emission targets would be calamitous for Australian wildlife and the environment,” said HSI Senior Program Manager Nicola Beynon.
Coral dominated reefs are likely to largely disappear with a 2°C rise in sea temperature over the next 100 years, unable to tolerate the heat or the acidification of the oceans once the atmospheric carbon reaches 500 ppm.
“The disaster would not be limited to our coral reefs. Current debates about the Murray Darling Basin will look like re-arranging chairs on the titanic and nearly 40% of Australian species could go extinct,” said Ms Beynon.
Garnaut recognises that at 450ppm and 1.3-2.6°C temperature rise, 5-23% of species will be at risk of extinction, while at 550ppm and 1.6-3.2°C temperature rise, 8-39% of species will be at risk.
More welcome is Professor Garnaut’s indications this week that he will recommend forest protection be part of Australia’s strategy for reducing carbon emissions in his final report. His interim report and the Government Green Paper on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme had placed forests in the too hard basket.
“Even low emissions targets cannot be achieved without protecting intact natural forests and other ecosystems,” said Ms Beynon. “There should be an immediate end to native forest logging and other forms of habitat destruction if the Australian environment is to stand a chance in what looks like a very bleak future,” said Ms Beynon.
At the UNFCCC negotiations, demands are being placed on developed countries like Australia to adopt emission reduction targets of 25-40% on 1990 levels by 2020. “For the sake for the environment, the Australian public must demand the same of Australia,” concluded Ms Beynon.