Foundations for Australia's transition to a low-carbon economy Media Release

May 07, 2011 - 10:00am

An alliance of leading union, social, environment and research organisations today unveiled a combined policy platform designed to lay the necessary foundations for Australia’s transition to a low-carbon pollution economy.


The platform emphasises the need for a price on pollution as soon as possible, supported by a range of complementary measures to develop clean industries and support households, workers and communities.

“There is no doubt Australia’s future economic and environmental security requires the Federal Government taking action to reduce carbon pollution and grow cleaner industries,” said ACTU President Ged Kearney

“Putting a price on carbon pollution with supporting policies is the most cost-effective way to bring about this important transformation to the way the Australian economy operates.

“This transformation can be delivered in a way that delivers new economic opportunities and real environmental benefits to Australians while effectively managing the impacts of this important economic reform,” she said

“However it requires a response that balances the need to reduce emissions to improve environmental outcomes, with the necessary assistance for industry, workers and households who will experience short term impacts during this change.”

The Southern Cross Climate Coalition (SCCC) platform calls for the Federal Government to:

  • Follow the interim carbon price with a legislated pollution cap that covers all major and rapidly growing sectors of the economy
  • Provide targeted assistance to industry, in particular trade exposed industries, that is balanced with support for workers, households and communities
  • Ensure no group of low income households are financially worse off as a result of the carbon price
  • Introduce a National Energy Saving Initiative that requires energy retailers and large industrial energy users to save a set level of energy each year
  • Create a single agency to provide tailored financial support for emerging clean energy technologies so that Australia can then benefit from the commercialisation of these technologies
  • Set emissions performance standards for new generators.

“A fixed price on carbon, while an important step that will help business adapt, does not, on its own, ensure carbon pollution levels will fall, so it’s vital that we move from a fixed price to a legislated cap on pollution levels,” said Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Don Henry.

“Australia can create up to a million clean energy jobs with the right policies, but we need them to be implemented as quickly as possible to drive investment so we can begin the economic transformation and support workers to adjust,” said ACTU President Ged Kearney.

“People on low-incomes will be disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, so we must take environmentally-effective action that protects the most vulnerable in our communities and creates clean employment opportunities,” said Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“Action is vital if we are to begin addressing the serious impacts of climate change, but equally vital if Australia is to remain economically competitive in the face of other countries ramping up their own low-carbon policies, said John Connor, CEO The Climate Institute.

The Southern Cross Climate Coalition is an alliance comprising the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Council of Social Service and the Climate Institute that is committed to reducing our economy’s dependence on carbon pollution and promoting solutions to climate change that protect the interests of Australians both now and into the future.

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