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National greenhouse gas emissions up

01 Jun 2009 7:28 PM

CANBERRA, June 1 AAP - Evidence of Australia's mounting carbon pollution levels strengthens the case for emissions trading, says Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

The national greenhouse accounts released on Monday show emissions rose by an estimated 553 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or 1.1 per cent, last year.

Senator Wong said the underlying trends showed carbon pollution was increasing, particularly in the energy sector, and demonstrated the need to turn Australia's emissions around.

"These results demonstrate the challenge of reducing emissions in all sectors of the economy," she said in a statement.

"For example, the emissions from the energy sector have increased by 42 per cent from 1990 to 2007, and by another 1.5 per cent in 2008."

Senator Wong said the results made it even more important that legislation on the government's emissions trading scheme be passed by the parliament.

The opposition says it will not support the introduction of emissions trading until after the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

"To start to reverse this growth in our emissions, we need to drive investment in renewable energy and clean technology with the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme," Senator Wong said.

"If the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is introduced, Australia's emissions will be reduced by up to 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," she said.

Greens senator Christine Milne said the only way to protect the climate was to rapidly transform Australia into a carbon neutral powerhouse.

"But the government is doing everything it can to sandbag Australia's 19th century polluters," she said in a statement.

"It is vital that we adopt targets consistent with the science, of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, instead of the government's weak five per cent target."

Senator Milne said this was a huge task.

"The stronger the targets we aim for, the more jobs we will create and the greater chance we give ourselves to avoid tipping points in the climate that would trigger catastrophe," she said.