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Rudd's greenhouse target wrong by nearly a century; Wong admits mistake, but no correction issued

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has acknowledged that one of the critical scientific targets in the Prime Minister's May 4 announcement on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was wrong. The mistake has gone uncorrected for 25 days, Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.

The key condition the Government set on its highly conditional 25% emissions reduction target was the achievement of a global agreement to stabilise atmospheric carbon at 450 parts per million by 2050. Such an ambitious goal would be welcome, but would require far stronger action from Australia and it would mean very steep emissions reductions from all countries.

The first line of the Prime Minister's press release from May 4 reads:

‘The Rudd Government has today committed to reduce Australia's carbon pollution by 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 if the world agrees to an ambitious global deal to stabilise levels of CO2 equivalent at 450 parts per million or lower by mid century.'

As Minister Wong acknowledged in Estimates hearings today, however, the Government's position, backed up by Professor Garnaut's modelling, is for stabilisation at 450ppm by 2140, not 2050. This would put the world on a much slower and more dangerous reduction trajectory.

"The Prime Minister's target was wrong by 90 years," Senator Brown said.

"This mistake changes the whole effect and meaning of the Government's position. It moves it from an ambitious global goal to a weak one.

"The Minister's office and the Department of Climate Change have known about this mistake since at least Tuesday, when it was revealed by the ANU's Andrew Macintosh.

"The Minister told the Committee she would find out whether the Prime Minister has at any time been informed of this mistake.

"Minister Wong and her department said that no-one in the business of environment groups backing the Government had asked about the vital error. It is extraordinary that the mistake was not picked up."

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