Draft emissions reduction legislation still not worthy of support Media Release

May 09, 2014 - 4:00pm

The Climate Institute welcomed today some details on the Government’s carbon pollution policy with the release of the draft Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) legislation, but noted that it is still well short of a credible alternative to the current carbon laws. 

“This draft legislation sets out only half the story of how the government plans to reduce emissions and is still well short of a credible alternative to the current laws,” said  The Climate Institute CEO John Connor. 

“It is good to see some details in the draft legislation, but they are just not that good. Details on the other half of the policy, the ‘safeguard mechanism supposed to ensure reduced emissions from our biggest polluters, are not even due out for another 12 months.” 

In the absence of credible policy, national emissions are projected to grow by 30 per cent by 2030.

Key points from today’s draft legislation are:

  • The Clean Energy Regulator is given powers to buy emissions reductions not just through reverse auctions, but also tenders and “any other processes” it chooses to follow, undermining the ERF’s claim to being a market mechanism. 
  • R ule changes affecting land sector projects could potentially undermine the integrity of emissions reductions. 
  • Th e Government seems to be leaving the door open for the purchase of international carbon, which it previously had said it would not do to meet the 5 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020. 
  • The  Environment Minister is given more power to influence the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee proposed to replace the current Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee that oversees methodologies for eligible emission reductions.  

Australia's current legislation, with its system of flexible emission limits and carbon price, can achieve ambitious emission goals. This would be achieved by making companies take responsibility for reducing their pollution and driving investment in new clean technologies.

By comparison, the ERF draft legislation is intended to enable the Government to spend $2.55 billion of taxpayer funds to subsidise emission reduction activities over the four years of forward estimates in the Budget, and another $1.2 billion every year thereafter. 

The Climate Institute has calculated that repealing the current carbon laws and losing carbon revenue from companies paying for pollution would add a further $15 billion slug to the Budget over the next four years.

“This draft legislation is still well short of a package that can credibly reduce pollution, let alone reduce pollution enough to help avoid costly climate disruption. Parliament should instead stay with the current laws, which price and limit pollution and can reduce emissions by up to 25 per cent by 2020 with deeper reductions thereafter.”

“The Government has not revealed enough details to provide a credible alternative,” concluded Connor. 

For more information

Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director, The Climate Institute, 02 8239 6299 

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