Milestone or millstone? Government's pollution policy now a reality Media Release

Oct 31, 2014 - 12:38pm

Despite some improvements, the carbon pollution policy that passed the Senate last night is more likely a millstone than a milestone for the government, said The Climate Institute today.

“The agreements with the crossbenchers have made improvements but haven’t established a credible climate policy with a reasonable chance of achieving even the lowest level of Australia’s 5-25 per cent 2020 target range, let alone the deeper decarbonisation of the economy that will be needed beyond 2020,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute.

“Australia has now moved from a system where some of our biggest polluters started to pay for their pollution reductions to one where taxpayers will pay for those reductions through the Emission Reduction Fund. This is an inefficient, uncertain mechanism that risks paying for activities that would have been done anyway. All publicly available independent modelling finds the Fund will fall short.”

“The fiscal problem that the whole fund relies on taxpayer funds to purchase emission reductions rather than polluter payments will remain a drag on ambition and effectiveness.”

“Unfortunately, Senator Xenophon’s strategic reserve to buy international carbon permits that may have partly helped this didn’t make it into the legislation at this stage. This would have greatly reduced the risk that Australia would miss its targets – or make future emission goals far too unambitious.”

The Climate Institute is concerned that the Emission Reduction Fund does not gives a reasonable chance of achieving even the lowest level of Australia’s 5-25 per cent 2020 target range, let along the deeper decarbonisation of the economy that will be needed beyond 2020.

Connor said: “While we are stuck in a rut without credible climate policy, the rest of the world is moving. Europe, the USA, China and most major countries are putting forward their post-2020 targets, while we’re talking domestically about barely – and possibly not at all – meeting a low target to 2020.”

“The review the Climate Change Authority will conduct into the carbon reduction policies of major trading partners is potentially a valuable contribution to the development of Australia’s emission reduction targets and policies However, we need to see more details on what the review will cover and how the government will respond to it.”

“In reality, the CCA has already reported that Australia needs to cut carbon pollution by 40-60 per cent by 2030. What the CCA will find in this new investigation is that climate policies, whether carbon trading schemes or regulatory regimes, are strengthening and are likely to continue to strengthen over the coming decade. It will likely reach the same conclusion as every previous similar exercise: setting a binding limit on emissions and allowing carbon trading among companies, both domestic and international, is the most efficient way of lowering carbon pollution.”

For more information
Kristina Stefanova, Communications Director, The Climate Institute, 02 8239 6299
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