Under the Labor government, Australia ratified the Kyoto Protocol agreeing to limit annual greenhouse gas emissions to an average of 108% of 1990 levels during the Kyoto period (2008 to 2012).
Australia also committed to reducing its emissions by between 5 and 15 or 25% below 2000 levels by 2020. The 5% target is unconditional. The 15-25% targets are conditional on the extent of international action. Read more here.
In the course of negotiations with the Greens and the independents in the Multi-party Climate Change Committee, the Labor Party agreed to a long-term target to cut emissions by 80 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050. The ALP, Greens and independents agreed to a package of measures - the Clean Energy Future plan which included the establishment of two renewable energy assistance funds, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The package included an emissions trading scheme with a three year fixed price period before moving to a floating price linked to the European ETS. Initially the ETS was to have a floor price, but that was removed in order to facilitate linking to the European scheme.
Kevin Rudd proposes to link the Australian carbon price to the European ETS a year early, citing cost of living pressures. This is a very disappointing back-down on what Rudd previously referred to as 'the greatest moral challenge of our time'. The ALP have shot themselves in the foot by stepping into Tony Abbott's favoured materialism frame.
How serious are the ALP about implementing the recommendations of the Climate Change Authority on caps and targets for the ETS? It doesn't make much sense to be promising people a lower price when the CCA may recommend more stringent caps and targets when it reports in November.
The ALP have said they will take the recommendations of the Climate Change Authority seriously, and a leaked version of their Caps and Targets draft report suggests that they will recommend an emissions reduction target of 15% (from 2000 levels) by 2020. The leaked report says the cuts should ramp up to 40 per cent cut by 2030, and 90 per cent by 2050.
For some light entertainment watch the YouTube video of Rudd taking on Andrew Bolt on his climate change denial and cherry picking of the evidence.
Commentary: Tristan Edis from Business Spectator has ten tough climate questions for Rudd. Read them here.