Australian disasters spark call for climate action

Fri Feb 4, 2011 2:17am GMT

CANBERRA Feb 4 (Reuters) - An architect of Australia's stalled climate-change policy has linked the nation's recent natural disasters with global warming and called for a new political push to cut carbon emissions.

Ross Garnaut, releasing updated advice to the government, said extreme weather events like massive Cyclone Yasi, which hit the northeast coast on Thursday, and recent floods were just a taste of what would come if climate change went unchecked.

"The greater energy in the atmosphere and the seas can intensify extreme events and I'm afraid that we're feeling some of that today, and we're feeling that at a time when global warming is in its early stages," he said in a speech late on Thursday.

Australia accounts for 1.5 percent of global emissions but is one of the world's top per-capita polluters because of its reliance on coal for around 80 percent of power generation.

Canberra has delayed plans to force polluters to pay for carbon-emission permits on an open market and has instead set up a committee to find the best way of putting a price on carbon.

Greens and independent MPs are involved in developing the new policy, with other options such as an interim carbon tax also being considered.


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