Prime minister Kevin Rudd said that this interim plan would not alter the country’s prior commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 60% from 2000 levels by 2050.
Rudd's 2020 target was widely criticised by environmental groups, however. They had hoped for a 25% reduction by 2020, the amount recommended for developed countries by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Australia's new interim targets would apply only if the United Nations fails to reach a binding climate agreement — in 2009 in Copenhagen — locking both developing and developed countries into higher global emissions cuts. From a per capita perspective, the Australian target is comparable to the European Union's goal to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by a minimum of 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, the government's climate-change policy document said.
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