Australia accused of wrongly presenting emissions report

Last Updated: Monday, December 14, 2009 - 14:43

Melbourne: Australia has allegedly
wrongly presented its carbon emissions report by ignoring a
massive rise in polluting gases from its agricultural and
forestry industries, a report said on Monday.

This "misrepresentation" by the government has led to
severe criticism from all quarters at the UN climate summit
going on in Copenhagen.

Australia has ignored a massive rise in polluting
gases from agricultural and forestry industries, and has
managed to make its overall emissions seem much lower than
they actually are, the ABC said in the report.

While under the Kyoto Protocol, Australia is allowed
to up carbon emissions by eight per cent compared to the 1990
levels, figures supplied to the UN earlier this year say that
between 1990 and 2007, the nation`s real carbon emissions
actually rose by 82 percent, the report said.

This dramatic increase has mainly been caused by
rising emissions from rural lands, caused by bushfires and
drought.

But those are the very same agricultural, grazing
plains and grasslands that major political parties in
Australia hope will help offset the country`s rising
industrial emissions.

Australia has led the charge on proposed land use rule
changes to the new global climate deal. The changes will open
the door to the bonanza of green carbon that can be stored
away in the world`s rural lands, the report said.

But the move is deeply dividing the Copenhagen
conference. Australia and other big players have been accused
of a trying to pull off a rort.

Christine Milne, climate change spokesperson for
Australian political party, the Australian Greens, said in
Copenhagen that the country has been trying to "cook the
books".

"The United States has always wanted to use Land Use
Land Use Change and Forestry as a mechanism for not having to
do as much in its fossil fuel sector, and Australia has always
been the fall guy for the US," she said.

"So I think what you are seeing is the umbrella group,
chaired by Australia, including the US, including Canada,
trying to really cook the books in some dodgy deals on land
use."

"That is not an error. It is actually called Land Use
Land Use Change and Forestry. Everything in these negotiations
has an acronym -- this one is LULU_CF," she said.

But developing nations fear that with some changes to
the existing rules, LULU_CF may be the way that countries like
Australia will wriggle out of the reductions currently being
negotiated for 2020 greenhouse targets.

A climate scientist for International Rivers network,
Payal Parekh, says such loopholes will water down the carbon
targets.

"It essentially means that developed countries,
including Australia, could actually increase their emissions
in the next few years," she said.

"What it means is that it is a total scam. It appears
as if something is done, but it is not. The best way to sum it
up is that it is a `get out of jail free card`," she said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, December 14, 2009 - 14:43

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