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© Neena Bhandari, Indo Asian News Service

Sydney, Dec 12 (IANS) India and China's commitment to slashing greenhouse gas emission targets is crucial to climate change, says an adviser to Australia's new Kevin Rudd government.

Ross Garnaut, an economist who is conducting a climate change review for the Rudd government, said: "If the world problem is going to be solved then all the major countries, including China and India, are going to have to break the nexus between economic growth and emissions."

He said the phenomenal economic growth in India and China had boosted Australia's economy with average incomes rising 10 percent in the last four years. This was as a direct result of the higher prices India and China are paying for Australian commodities.

Pointing out that India and China rely heavily on coal, much of it from Australia, Garnaut was quoted in The Australian as saying: "It's very much in our interests for China and India to find ways of keeping up their economic growth but making that consistent with lower emission levels."

He warned that "Australia will be one of the most damaged of the developed countries if climate change is allowed to go on without effective mitigation."

While airing his doubts about the economic viability of nuclear power in Australia, Garnaut said the long-term solution lies in developing cost-effective clean coal technologies.

"If we can make the carbon sequestration work at a reasonable cost, then coal has an expanding future. If we do not succeed in finding economic ways to take out the carbon dioxide and to place it permanently in safe storage then there will come a time when there won't be new coal-fired power stations," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

There has been pressure on Australia to commit to cutting its emissions by between 25 and 40 percent by 2020.

While accepting the science that has identified future reductions targets to avoid dangerous climate change, Rudd rejected committing to binding cuts for Australia until Garnaut's draft official review on the economic impacts of climate change and a framework for policy response was published in June 2008.

Once the report by Garnaut was finished, "we would be in a position to frame our own interim targets", Rudd was quoted as saying in the local media.

"I emphasise that our long-term target is an ambitious target to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2050 against 2000 levels."

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