Credibility deficit bankrupts climate hopes Media Release

Dec 15, 2008 - 12:43pm

The Government has slipped deep into ‘credibility deficit’ by stating that it is in the national interest to stabilise greenhouse gas levels at  “450ppm and below” yet crippled Australia’s ability to achieve this with a polluter-friendly package, The Climate Institute said today.

“This is reckless economic management ignoring not only the national interest, but also the growing numbers of investors, property developers, transport and energy companies who say that  Australia can and should commit to targets stronger than 5 - 15% reductions as part of a global effort,” Climate Institute CEO John Connor said.

“Future thinking business voices understand the bigger picture and that a strong target of 25% reductions would happen as part of a strong global agreement with sectoral agreements and flexibility mechanisms that would dramatically reduce any potential disadvantage to Australian business.

“Rather than backing smart voices in forward looking industries, the Government has buckled to the short-term interests of selfish business voices.

“What’s worse is that the Government has increased the number of free permits to major polluters and watered down the conditions which require them to clean up their act in return. This corporate welfare with inadequate transparency and accountability effectively means ordinary Australians are shelling out around $550 per person in 2020 to polluters.”

The Government has opened a large credibility gap by identifying 450 ppm-e as in our national interest but falling short of our fair share of reductions. The maximum commitment of 15% reduction off 1990/2000 levels by 2020 has been linked by Treasury to a 510 ppm-e risking far worse climate impacts.

Professor Garnaut linked a 25% reduction to the 450ppm outcome, as part of a global effort, and urged Australia to put this on the table at international talks.

“What is striking is the absence of an international strategy to pursue the national interest of 450ppm. There is no commitment, even over time, to allow for investment in cleaning up the growth of our developing country neighbours or to help them prepare for the impacts of climate change.  Both of these are crucial to a global deal,” Mr Connor said. 

"I do however recognise that addressing climate change would have been far easier to do years ago during times of strong economic growth and that the Government has not used the excuse of the global financial crisis as an excuse for inaction.

“There is also a solid start in support for low incomes households, but we’ll still need stronger measures for energy efficiency to retrofit households and grow the tens of thousands of jobs that can be part of this.

"This disappointing 5 per cent target highlights the need for much stronger complementary measures such as a comprehensive national energy efficiency strategy and prompt implementation of the 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target.”

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