World leaders have applauded Australia’s climate targets at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Environment Minister Greg Hunt says.
Speaking to ABC’s Lateline from the talks in Paris, Mr Hunt described Australia’s targets of 26 to 28 per cent reductions in emissions by 2030 as “ambitious”.
He said compared to some of the great economies of the world, Australia was doing more than its fair share.
“In per capita terms, Australia is lifting heavily, we are doing more than our fair share, because we are right at the front of the world in per capita reductions, which is a proxy for effort,” he said.
Mr Hunt said Australia’s efforts had been recognised by other heads of state in Paris.
“I’ve got to say, the response that other nations had given us and the response from the floor of the conference hall has been overwhelming support,” he said.
“A sense that Australia is really leading through our saving of 90 billion tonnes at a global level.
“Our own commitments, the fact that we have made the announcement that we would meet and beat our targets and sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, these are major international achievements acknowledged by the international community.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who also visited Paris for the talks, last week announced Labor’s new climate policy with an emissions reduction target of 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.
Mr Hunt admitted that Australia was a higher emitting country per capita, but he said that would change.
“We are starting from a higher base. I cannot change history or the fact of the economy as it is,” he said.
“But what we have done is set a policy that will see us reduce from being the 14th highest emitter in the world, down to the 25th highest emitter by 2030. That is a very significant change.”
Mr Hunt also backed the Federal Government’s plan to commit $1 billion from the foreign aid budget to help Pacific nations tackle climate change.
“Julie Bishop is a master in this space of delivery of Australian aid in a way which meets our global objectives, our regional objectives, but their national needs,” he said.
He said it was another announcement welcomed by world leaders at the conference.
“It’s something that has been embraced,” he said.
“The conference of the climate change convention, when the Prime Minister announced that, stopped, and applauded widely.
“It’s a sign of Australia’s international standing.”