Emissions trading taskforce won’t achieve necessary emission reductions

Friends of the Earth Australia says that the recommendations of the Emissions Trading taskforce given to the Prime Minister yesterday will not achieve the emissions reductions required to avoid dangerous climate change. This is because it does not recommend a target, recommends offsets and allows the free allocation of permits to big polluters.

MEDIA RELEASE

1 st June, 2007

Emissions trading taskforce won’t achieve necessary emission reductions

Friends of the Earth Australia says that the recommendations of the Emissions Trading taskforce given to the Prime Minister yesterday will not achieve the emissions reductions required to avoid dangerous climate change. This is because it does not recommend a target, recommends offsets and allows the free allocation of permits to big polluters.

The report does not contain a recommendation to include an emission reduction target to reduce emissions, saying we need to be “cautious”.

‘We don’t have time to be cautious – without a target, there is no way of ensuring that a trading scheme will achieve the greenhouse emissions cuts required. We need to set targets now and put in place policies to enable the achievement of these cuts’ said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Emma Brindal.

‘The report recommends a cap and trade system. However, a cap will only be effective if it is reduced year on year in line with a target to reduce emissions. To avoid overshooting a global temperature increase of 2 o C, these targets need to be at least 40% of 1990 levels by 2020 and 90-95% by 2050’ said Ms Brindal.

‘The report recommends the inclusion of offsets (or credits); however Friends of the Earth believes that any emissions trading scheme should exclude offsets as they mean that any emissions reduction target is undermined’ said Ms Brindal.

‘The most fundamentally effective response to climate change is to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Making structural long term changes away from fossil fuel dependency will only be delayed when polluters can simply purchase cheap carbon credits. Friends of the Earth Australia believes that an Australian emissions trading scheme should not be part of an international trading scheme as that will mean that credits are included’ said Ms Brindal.

‘Polluters must also be required to pay and not simply be given a license to pollute. However, the taskforce has recommended that some permits be allocated to big polluters for free.

Under the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), governments massively over-allocated emissions permits to the heaviest polluting industries in the initial round due to corporate pressure. This resulted in the UK's most polluting industries collectively earning £940m ($1,792m) in profits in the first year of the scheme. A just scheme in Australia should not enable polluters to profit from their pollution’ said Ms Brindal.

‘An adequate response to climate change will also require more than just an emissions trading scheme – we need to see legislation to shift subsidies away from fossil fuels towards renewables, and to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy target to 25% by 2020’ said Ms Brindal.

The taskforce report also says a new international framework is needed. ‘Conveniently for Mr Howard, this coincides with U.S. President Bush’s announcement of a new climate strategy to agree on targets with major emitters such as China and India, as well as Australia. However, Friends of the Earth sees this as a delaying tactic to avoid committing to binding emission reduction targets. Both Australia and the U.S. need to ratify Kyoto if they are really serious about reducing their greenhouse emissions’ said Ms Brindal.

More information: Emma Brindal (Brisbane) 0411 084 727

Cam Walker (Melbourne) 0419 338 047

The report is available at:

http://www.pmc.gov.au/publications/emissions/index.cfm