Finally, getting a start on climate action!

July 18, 2011 at 11:57 pm 1 comment

While you are being bombarded with analysis on the Carbon Tax, here’s a briefing from us at Climate Action Moreland on the impact of the Carbon Price Package on CAM’s campaign priorities.
First up, we are glad that the talking is done! Now we know the ground rules, our job is to make sure these promises actually translate into action on the ground.
Renewable energy is a real winner in the carbon price package. And we reckon great credit is due to the grass roots community groups of 100% Renewables and Beyond Zero Emissions – two campaigns that CAM has taken an active role in!
What’s so good?
  • 1 billion dollars a year for 5 years for measures to support renewables from 2014 (eg, loans and loan guarantees) with another billion that might go to renewables or to gas.
  • ARENA – the administration of existing renewable energy funds will be by an independent board and taken out of the control of Martin Ferguson – aka the Minister for Promoting Dirty Coal, in our humble opinion.  🙂
  • Modelling about a 100% renewable energy grid to be undertaken by the independent Australian Energy Market Operator, AEMO (otherwise known as grid regulator).
What we don’t like:

Big polluters, including coal fired power stations, will get billions in cash and free permits under the scheme. If they pass increased costs onto consumers AND pocket the compensation that’s a double bonus for our biggest polluters – AKA wind fall profits!

The package gives us reason for cautious optimism!
What’s good:
There is money in the package to close 2000MW (that’s around two medium sized power stations) of coal power by 2020.  It’s promising that Hazelwood might be included – though they’ll have to tender for it.  What will replace Hazelwood isn’t clear – we’ll need to campaign hard to make sure it’s renewable energy, not “clean coal” or gas.
What we don’t like:
2020?  Let’s build the renewables now and close Hazelwood ASAP!
CAM thinks compensation money should go to communities and workers, not to the companies that have known they’d need to reduce emissions for decades.  After all, Hazelwood is old, decrepit, and past it’s intended closure date already.
We also need to make sure that Hazelwood doesn’t become the ONLY power station closed by 2020 – we want to see the back of all these polluting dinosaurs by 2020!
3) STOP HRL – no new coal power station for the La Trobe Valley
Rats, we haven’t won this yet!
What’s good:
Government modelling shows the carbon price package will mean no more COMMERCIAL coal power stations will be built in Australia.
What’s not:
But HRL is a DEMONSTRATION plant, so it’s not covered.  Our job is not yet done! We are still going to fight to knock out $100 million of federal grants and $50 million of state grants for HRL.
What’s good:
We welcome the increase in emissions reduction target to 80% by 2050 – imagine how different (and better!) our country will be in less than 40 years!
There will be yearly recommendations to the Government on changes to targets by an independent, scientifically based board.  The importance of this should be underestimate, because it will keep the climate discussion alive year after year in the media and the parliament.  If at first the parliament doesn’t listen… they’ll be back again next year!
We’re not sure:
We need to see ambitious targets for the next five to ten years – because emissions reductions need to start now!  The targets for the emissions trading scheme after 2015 are not yet determined, but as it stands there is now a minimum reduction target of 5% by 2020 – which needs to ramp up substantially.  So we need to get ready to make noise every year until the Government listens!
And core to all our campaigns are these concerns:

Social justice and Equity
Overall, it looks like the package will be good for low income earners and disadvantaged  people. Raising the tax free threshold to $18,000 is a good thing!  It seems like low and middle income households will be overcompensated for price rises, but we’ll need to be vigilant to make sure that remains the case over time.In the short term social justice means ensuring householders are shielded from businesses passing on the carbon price to those who can’t afford it, but in the long term it means changing the polluting practices of those businesses so we have a safe climate for all of us.

International Justice
Australia is a wealthy country AND has the highest per capita carbon emissions in the developed world.  So we should be reducing emissions here, not paying poorer people overseas to do it.
So it’s good that the fixed price means Australia’s big polluters can’t use dodgy international offsets for their own pollution the first three years – but we’ll need to campaign on that because in 2015 the price will become a trading scheme – and international offsets are slated for scheme inclusion, up to 50% of each polluter.
This package would not have happened without the constant pressure and untiring work of thousands of individuals and groups in the climate movement across Australia – including CAM and that means YOU.  We have kept the issue of climate change alive in the face of powerful vested interests… it’s a very significant victory for Australian civil society.  CONGRATULATIONS!

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