Coalition changes shouldn't slow clean energy economy Media Release

Jul 27, 2009 - 10:09am

The independent Climate Institute today cautioned that the Coalition’s “opening gambit” on CPRS amendments shouldn’t lead to chaining Australian policy to potential US carbon protectionism or forcing the rest of the Australian economy to bear the burden of too much big polluter protection.

“This opening gambit can be a positive move towards acceptance of emissions trading and the need for extra incentives for energy efficiency, but building bigger shields for big polluters mean bigger burdens for other industries as we try to grow jobs and profits in a competitive clean energy economy,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute.

“Giving free permits and energy cost compensation to one part of the economy shifts costs to other parts, multi-billion dollar big polluters benefit while shoppers, schools and services pay more.”

The Climate Institute also cautioned against those parts of the Coalition conditions which bind Australian policy design to the outcomes of the US Senate debate on the Waxman Markey emissions trading scheme.

“Right now it is arguable whether the US legislation is tougher or easier on big polluters than Australia’s, but we shouldn’t be out-sourcing Australian policy design to a handful of influential of Senators from the US mid-west.

“Nor should we be handcuffing our clean energy and low carbon industry development to big polluters in the US, do we really want to lock our industry development on to the future of the US car industry or other big polluters like Exxon Mobil?   

“It is critical that we look at policies like emissions trading, renewable energy targets and energy efficiency through the lens of helping achieve an effective global climate agreement as well as growing jobs and profits in a competitive 21st century clean energy economy.”

“The Climate Institute welcomed the Coalition’s bipartisan support for potential 25 per cent pollution reduction targets for Australia, but too big a shield for big polluters will mean a big burden for the rest of economy to achieve this and will burden the growth of a clean energy economy.

“These conditions are disappointingly silent on improvements that can help achieve a global climate agreement such as post transition permit revenue financing for clean technology development at home and in developing countries.”

“The Climate Institute supports the Coalition’s ongoing calls for a greater focus on energy efficiency, particularly in the built sector.”

“We are open to calls for agricultural offsets but these must have integrity and cannot be decoupled from farm emissions indefinitely, as the Coalition’s previous commitment to ‘whole-of-farm’ accounting acknowledges.  With agriculture’s emissions second only to stationary energy, there’ll need to be broader measures to help farmers be a bigger part of the solution.”   

“The current Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme already provides massive support for our big polluters, now is not the time to provide even more, now is the time to ensure we move ahead.  The Government should meet with all parties to speed our transition to a clean energy economy and help achieve an effective global climate agreement,” concluded Mr Connor

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