US and China secure climate change deal, Aus urged to follow

The agreement between the United States and China to further limit carbon emissions up to 2030 has prompted calls for the Australian government to follow suit.

The New York Times and others reports that US president Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping announced the agreement at a joint press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

Obama pledged to cut emissions by between 26% and 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, while Xi Jinping agreed that China’s emissions would continue to slow and peak by 2030 at the latest.

At this stage, Australia is only aiming to cut emissions by 5 per cent by 2020.

The ABC reports that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten immediately took the opportunity to Australia has to follow the lead of the US and China.

"The Australian Government needs to join the rest of the world, needs to join most Australian citizens and take real action on climate change, not their climate sceptics' policy they've got in place," he said.

"We are now irrelevant to the great economic debates of our age.

"While the United States and China show global leadership, Tony Abbott is sticking his head in the sand.

"At the G20 this week, Australia will hold the embarrassing title of being the only nation going backwards on climate change.

"Any argument for inaction, because the rest of the world isn't acting, is clearly false."

The Guardian reports that academic Ross Garnaut, author of the Garnaut Climate Change Review, commissioned by the Rudd Government, said the US-China deal left Australia “Up Shit Creek” on climate.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt welcomed the deal.

“We have always said that we will consider Australia’s post-2020 emissions reduction targets in the lead up to next year’s Paris conference. This will take into account action taken by our major trading partners,” he said in a statement.

“In the meantime, what's important for Australia is that we have replaced Labor's ineffective and costly carbon tax with a policy that will actually deliver significant emissions reductions.”

Significantly, Obama faces a hostile Congress, unhappy with the deal. Incoming US Senate Majority Leader Mitch said he was "distressed" by the joint plan to curb carbon emissions.