Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An open letter to every Australian Senator - please oppose the CPRS

Please oppose the CPRS and work towards leglislation that reduces our greenhouse gas emissions

Dear Senator,

Tomorrow, the Australian Senate votes on the second reading of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) bill. The bill in its current form should not be passed as it fails the primary test - it will not reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions in the foreseeable future.

The Rudd government was elected on a promise to take effective action to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, the process for developing an effective policy response and accompanying legislation for doing this has been corrupted by industry influence on government.

Several hundred public submissions during the consultation period on the CPRS white paper then the CPRS green paper have opposed most of the basic structure of the legislation, pointing out that it will not be effective in reducing carbon emissions. Government has ignored these submissions.

The Government has also ignored key recommendations in Professor Ross Garnaut’s final report on climate change such as not giving away free pollution permits to the worst polluters, and providing no exemptions for petrol.

The main problems with the CPRS are:

  • The unconditional greenhouse target of 5% reduction by 2020 is tiny and far lower than the 25% to 40% target range flagged at the United Nations Bali Convention on climate change in 2008.
  • It encourages the growth of highly polluting Energy Intensive Trade Exposed industries such as aluminium smelters by allocating them 25% of permits free of charge, increasing to 45% by 2020.
  • Free permits are given to coal power over the first 5 years. This provides windfall profits to polluters and encourages dirty coal power to continue in the short term.
  • Permits are granted as property rights instead of temporary licences. This means that polluters who get them will be paid compensation in the future if more stringent emission reductions are introduced.
  • There is no limit on overseas offsets, so Australia's emissions could increase and emission permits bought from overseas to "offset" them.
  • The initial cap on the CO2 price is $10 per tonne – a figure far too low to provide incentives for clean energy production.
  • The high "cap" is also a "floor" so emission reductions by households are simply on sold by power stations to other polluters, resulting in no actual emission reductions.
  • The government has made a political decision to link the CPRS bill with the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) in attempt to bolster their negotiating position.
  • The scheme invalidates emission reductions previously associated with GreenPower.
  • It ignores the latest science that shows climate change is accelerating past worst case estimates and that deep emission cuts are required immediately to counter this.
  • 16 billion dollars of taxpayers money is being given to the worst polluting industries as corporate welfare by the Rudd Government. This money should be invested in green jobs and clean energy production.
Climate change has emerged as the great challenge of our lifetime. Please do not play politics with an issue this serious. Quite literally, the future of the planet and all life on it is at stake.

As an Australian Senator, I urge you to represent the best interests of the Australian public and work towards real and immediate emission reductions. You must represent the people who voted for you, not the corporate interests that lobby you.

The CPRS in its current form must not be passed. It is a political solution for an environmental and lifestyle problem.

I urge you to develop alternative legislation that will deliver emission cuts each and every year with a target of reaching zero emissions by 2020.

I also urge you to set a target of 300ppm carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to give us the best chance of restoring a safe climate future.

The majority of investment should be directed towards energy efficiency measures and clean energy production.

In addition, strategies need to be enacted for all sectors, rather than focusing on stationary energy. For example, stopping logging of native forests immediately could reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by over 5%.

You have an opportunity to lead Australia and the world in an economic and social transition to a sustainable zero emissions economy and clean energy production. Please do not squander this opportunity.

It is vitally important that an effective global approach to tacking climate change is achieved at Copenhagen later this year. I believe Australia must play a lead role in this.

This letter was sent to every Australian Senator


Grant said...

Peter, the Government is trying to implement a system that may have a slight chance of working.

As pointed out in previous responses, unless all stakeholders agree with the deliverables / targets, they will NOT be achieved.

Is it not better to have achievable stretch targets set, than having unachievable targets set that may cause major disruption and business / community backlash with groups (business, mining and community) actively working against even trying to achieve the targets. The old saying that - you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot force it to drink - is very applicable if the Government does not get agreement.

Imagine community / business backlash if no / minimal maintenance is done to our coal fired power generators, and there are major black outs in Melbourne. The state Government will immediately point the finger at Canberra who would have no choice but to give the power generating companies exemptions, and possible subsidies to increase power reliability.

In the case of stopping hardwood harvesting, Australia needs x cubic meters of hardwood each each year. We can either harvest the hardwood locally, under Government controls, or import it from areas such as Sth America, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea, etc. where there are effectively no controls at all.

Anyway the Senate has knocked back the initial bill, and it is now up to all parties to sit down and agree how realistic targets may be achieved, with minimal impacts to all.

Peter Campbell said...

Grant, thanks for your comments. I don't agree that the government is trying to implement a system that will work. The CPRS is far too compromised for it to work - as Garnaut warned could happen. Then Rudd, Wong and Labor decided to ignore Garnaut.

There were no stretch targets in the CPRS - it was a total cop out.

Imagine the community backlash when Melbourne's Docklands, St Kilda and all the Gold Coast canals go under water when sea levels rise.

We don't actually need hardwood - that is a myth spread by the logging industry. Softwoods can replace all hardwood applications. In any case, there are plenty of hardwood plantations coming on line right now.

I am not confident the political process will actually deliver the right action or targets to ensure a safe climate future.

All it takes is for 8 or more Liberals to vote with Labor and the CPRS will be passed through the Senate.

The amendments sought by Greens to strengthen the bill can then be completely ignored by the Labor Government. Notice they never mention the Greens? All they care about is slagging off Turnbull so they are sure of winning the next election.

Labor and the Liberals are too busy playing the game of politics to actually listen to scientists or the Australian people and take immediate action to address climate change.