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Negotiations in Durban are in serious danger of breaking down completely as countries wrestle to weaken any outcomes and Australia is right in the midst of it, Australian Greens Deputy Leader Christine Milne said.

“Prime Minister Gillard must immediately ring Minister Combet and insist that Australia step up and help rescue the talks by supporting the efforts of small island states, Africa and the least developed countries in putting higher levels of emissions reduction on the table globally and specifically by putting an Australian target into the proposed Kyoto Protocol text under negotiation,” Senator Milne said in Durban.

“It is disgraceful that Australia has refused to include a legal target for the second commitment period when other countries have done so.

“Australia came to Durban insisting that the big polluters be included in any outcome. Now that this is on the cards, with general agreement that a new treaty be concluded by 2015 to include all emitters, Australia is not keeping its side of the bargain by refusing to name a target and undermining global action to increase the level of ambition.

“The numbers have been done for Australia to insert a target range. There are no technical reasons why they cannot. It is pure politics and comes on top of Australia taking the rules for the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period to the gutter.

“The Prime Minister must also insist that Australia backs keeping strong language on increased greenhouse gas mitigation alive.

“Australia has secured everything it wanted in rorting the Land use, Land Use Change and Forestry rules in the proposed text. It is pushing for a deal over hot air that would allow it to be able to roll over surplus credits to the next period as well as getting agreement that it can trade any credits with anyone even if they are not in the Kyoto Protocol - which means the USA and Canada, for example.

“To make matters worse it is rumoured that Australia went along with USA and New Zealand as those two countries forced the removal of the proposed text requiring greater global mitigation efforts to bridge the emission gap of 6-11 gigatonnes.

“Given Minister Combet’s statements about meeting the 2 degree pledge, why didn’t Australia back the EU and the poorest, most vulnerable countries and vigorously demand that this proposed text go forward ?

“Without a commitment to stronger global action to close the emissions gap, the world is condemned to catastrophic climate change and Minister Combet knows it.

“The world needs leadership in the next few hours.

“The Prime Minister chose not to come to Durban in person, she must now get on the phone and get Australia back on track.

“The Prime Minister should explain.”