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Australia Can Afford to Make Huge Carbon Cuts, Likely Won't

Jul 09, 2014 02:30 PM EDT

A recent United Nations report claims that Australia is one developed country that can afford to make massive cuts to its greenhouse gas footprint. However, the country "down under" has - if anything - lessened its control of greenhouse gas emissions this year.

At the start of July 2014, Australia abolished its Carbon Pricing - a tax on carbon emissions that affected industries and home owners alike. Along with this abolishment, plans to dissolve the Climate Change Authority of Australia, whose primary purpose was to enforce emissions taxing, also went into effect.

According to the Australian Department of the Environment, the tax was abolished to "lower costs for Australian businesses and ease cost of living pressures for households."

However, this decision came with a massive flood of backlash from political and scientific communities alike, who claim that Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is dooming the country and the world with his refusal to acknowledge the dangers of greenhouse gasses.

Chairman of the UK's Committee on Climate Change, John Selwyn Gummer (Lord Deben), is at the forefront of this attack against Abbott, saying that he is ashamed that the government he once served is undermining the global effort of countries to fight climate change.

"I think future generations will ask 'what did you do to stop the world being overwhelmed by climate change?' Abbott will have to answer that and I don't know how he can look at children in the eye," Debon told The Guardian Australia earlier this week. "His attitude, if everyone else did the same, would condemn the poorest people in the world to an impossible life."

According to the latest emissions report entitled "Deep Decarbonization Pathways" - from the UN's Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) - Australia is one of several key developed countries that can help prevent global temperatures from rising past a cap set in 2010 during global climate change talks.

"The world has committed to limit warming to below two degrees Celsius, but it has not committed to the practical ways to achieve that goal," Jeffrey Sachs, director of the SDSN, said in a recent statement.

According to the report, with Australia and several other major countries cutting their emissions by 60 percent by 2050, they can even compensate for the emissions of developing countries who cannot afford to entirely overhaul their developing industries.

And Australia is reportedly in one of the best positions to do this. Modeling for Australia found it was technically possible for the country to cut its emissions to nearly zero by 2050. Amazingly, the report found gross domestic product could still grow by a projected 2.4 percent a year over the same period.

"A really low emissions future is not a pipe dream," report co-author Frank Jotzo told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It is possible in Australia and it is also possible in fast growing developing countries including China and India."

The preliminary SDSN report was released on July 8.

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