The Climate Institute today described the proposals outlined in the Emission Reduction Fund White Paper as a pollution reduction policy that fails to set a credible guarantee against ever increasing emissions.
"We welcome the release of greater details on the Government's proposed policy but remain very concerned that the policy does not at all ensure that emissions will fall in line with those of other nations, or that it can help avoid dangerous climate change," said Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute.
"There are some positive improvements suggested in parts of the White Paper. These include extending actions to improve energy productivity beyond existing state energy schemes and recognition that some kind of absolute limit on emissions from major emitting sectors is needed."
"We also welcome the Government's decision not to tie its development of post-2020 emission targets to the review of the Emission Reduction Fund in late 2015."
"But the fundamental challenge confronting the Government is that in the absence of credible policy, national emissions are projected to grow by 30 per cent by 2030."
The Government supports the international goal of avoiding dangerous climate change of more than 2°C increase in global temperature, as reiterated by the Environment Minister on the 14th of April.
"If Australia is to drive new multi-billion dollar clean investments to levels consistent with avoiding very serious climate impacts, then total emission reductions to 2030 need to be around five billion tonnes. This is equivalent to eight years of annual emissions at current rates," said Jackson.
"Taxpayer funds of $1.55 billion over the next few years, and possibly another $1 billion in the future, are not up to this task, particularly given the tight budget situation. Even using the most generous assumptions, the Government would need to be spending $3-$5 billion every year by the end of the next decade to achieve credible emission reduction goals."
"Without a mechanism to ensure that major emitting companies do their bit in driving new clean technology investments, we risk our economy continuing to fall behind. The USA, China, the EU and other major economies are already implementing carbon pricing, regulations and renewable energy incentives and are in the process of developing plans for steep emission controls beyond 2020."
Australia's current legislation, with its system of flexible emission limits and carbon price, can achieve ambitious emission goals. From 2015 the laws would help reduce emissions by at least 15 per cent by 2020 and continue thereafter.
"While some positive improvements have been made, as it currently stands the Emission Reduction Fund will not be an enduring climate policy. It simply can't meet the long-term challenge of climate change," Jackson said.
"The Government has deferred key compliance decisions and is unclear on future spending commitments, while at the same time it intends to dismantle the current legislation."
"In the absence of binding and declining pollution limits, the Government will need to strengthen the existing Renewable Energy Target to 30-40 percent by 2030 and slap new regulatory standards onto industries."
For more information
Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute, 0411 358 939
Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director, The Climate Institute, 0407 004 037