Coal ban needed - workers can be protected: Trading without a carbon tax won't work

National environment group Friends of the Earth Australia (FoEA) has backed a call by Greens leader Bob Brown for a ban on coal exports and coal-fired power generation in Australia.

February 9, 2007

National environment group Friends of the Earth Australia (FoEA) has backed a call by Greens leader Bob Brown for a ban on coal exports and coal-fired power generation in Australia.

FoEA says that affected workers can be at the core of the response to climate change and this must influence the nature and timing of the phase-out.

"There is no doubt that Australia will ultimately have to move away from relying on coal energy for the bulk of our domestic power needs and coal exports as a source of income."

"The market has shown that it alone cannot deliver climate protection and full employment - the coal industry itself has shed thousands of jobs by automation in recent years. What is needed is strong government action."

"To deal effectively with the threat of catastrophic climate change, Australia must agree to a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and annual targets for emission reductions to achieve an annual per capita carbon budget of around 0.62 tonnes per person (compared with our current 5.63 tonnes per person)."

"Stopping climate change means rapidly moving away from coal, with new R&D investment in renewables (funded through a high carbon tax), and a well funded transition plan for workers and affected communities. All these are measures are needed - one without the other won't work."

"Much of the current debate about taxation on carbon has placed too low a rate on carbon for it to be effective. For instance, Nicholas Stern derives a figure of approx A$397 per tonne of carbon for it to be effective."

"In addition, for a price or tax on carbon to be effective, it is essential that it apply to ALL carbon emissions. Any sector with a capacity to escape carbon pricing can derail the outcome, for example, air travel emissions."

"Too often workers in industries affected by transition, pay with their jobs and the viability of their local economies." said FoEA spokesperson Cam Walker.

"For global warming to be dealt with effectively, we need to remember that climate change is, at its core also a human rights issue. This means that all political parties must include a 'Just Transition' approach in all their climate policies."

"Workers must be fully involved in this discussion and fully funded to find appropriate new employment.

"Nicholas Stern and others have warned of the devastating economic costs that would come with an inadequate response to global warming. This will include employment and economics in Australia in all sectors, from agriculture to tourism. Anyone attacking Bob Brown for his call for a ban rather than engaging on the question of these longer term impacts is ultimately avoiding the real message of both the Stern and more recent IPCC reports".

Comment: Cam Walker, 0419 338 047