The United States top envoy to Australia says tackling climate change won’t be easy, but working together will deliver the best results.
United States ambassador John Berry has urged Australia to work closely with its ally in Washington on climate change, pointing to the major economic opportunities available in tackling the global challenge.
The US is one of the world’s largest polluters, but has made significant progress reducing its emissions since climate change was made a top-priority issue by the Obama administration.
Data in April showed the US had slashed greenhouse gas emissions 10 per cent below 2005 levels, meaning it’s more than halfway to achieving its target of a 17 per cent reduction by 2020.
Ambassador Berry said the US had managed to cut pollution while maintaining economic growth, defying the argument that achieving green outcomes was too expensive and hard on business.
The US would lead by example and be challenging world leaders to do their part by adopting “aggressive” pollution goals of their own.
“The issue is serious, it deserves everyone’s attention,” Ambassador Berry told a climate summit attended by Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Monday.
“We know you will continue to work with us – both bilaterally and in multilateral organisations – on the tremendous challenges climate change presents in the region.”
The federal government has promised to reduce emissions by five per cent of 2000 levels by 2020, but will review this target in 2015 as world leaders prepare to hammer out a new binding climate deal.
The US has forged agreements with other major polluters like India and China in the lead up to the 2015 summit, and wants to see climate change on the G20 agenda in Brisbane in November.
Ambassador Berry said the US should work closer with Australia to chase the huge economic benefits posed by the growth of renewable energy.
“It’s not only good environmental policy, it’s also good business,” he said.