Environment groups representing 400,000 Australians unite to oppose emissions trading legislation

Media Release 11 June, 2009

Environment groups representing 400,000 Australians unite to oppose emissions trading legislation

A series of compromises by the federal government on its pre-election commitment to take strong action on climate change has led to national and peak state-based environment organisations today uniting in opposition to the proposed emissions trading legislation.

An emergency meeting of the environment organisations, representing more than 400,000 Australians, in Canberra, has also produced a new report outlining a suite of measures, including the protection of Australia’s Native forests and woodlands, which can be in place within two years to put Australia within reach of halving its greenhouse emissions within a decade.

The environment organisations involved are: The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Environment Victoria, Queensland Conservation Council, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Conservation Council of SA, Environment Tasmania, Conservation Council WA, and Conservation Council ACT Region.

The Executive Director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW Cate Faehrmann said the government’s approach to climate change was dangerously inadequate because it does not respond to the latest science and instead has been hijacked by vested interests.

“There is emerging consensus among leading international climate scientists that there is already too much carbon in the atmosphere and that we need to pull out all stops to avoid reaching catastrophic tipping points within the climate system.

“We face a climate emergency but the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) fails all Australians and it undermines international negotiations. It fails the climate, fails the environment and fails to capitalise on the enormous opportunities in growing a green economy.

“We need a price on carbon but not one that locks in rising greenhouse pollution in Australia.”

Environment Tasmania Director Phill Pullinger, said that protecting Australia’s Old-growth and native forests is a key measure needed to cut Australia’s emissions; “Protecting Native forests is one of the cheapest, quickest and most effective ways to immediately cut emissions, and is one of the first steps that the Australian government can and should be putting in place,” he said.

Greenpeace spokesperson Jeremy Tager said small targets and half measures by the government through its proposed CPRS legislation had led to a failure to address the root cause of Australia’s growing greenhouse emissions.

“Australia’s energy emissions have increased by nearly 50 per cent since 1990 and now accounts for more than half of Australia’s total greenhouse pollution.

“The only way to tackle this threat to all Australians is to fast track the switch to clean renewable energy by phasing out coal-fired power stations, directing subsidies into renewable energy generation, energy savings and doubling the renewable energy target.”

The new report outlines five essential measures that are proven and ready to be implemented:

A National Energy Savings Program – includes a green overhaul of buildings in Australia over the next decade to create new jobs and reduce the 30 per cent of carbon emissions that buildings account for;
Fast Track to a Renewable Energy Economy – includes doubling the current Renewable Energy Target to 90,000 gigawatt hours by 2020 and phasing out coal-fired electricity plants;
Shift to Low Emissions Vehicles and Sustainable Cities – includes setting targets for fuel efficiency, development of sustainable transport infrastructure and incentives for development of electric vehicles;
Protection of Native Forests as Carbon Stores – includes ending logging of old growth and high-conservation value native forests to permanently protect the huge amount of carbon stored in them, and;
A National Green Jobs and Industries Plan – Up to 80,000 green collar jobs are possible in Australia by 2030 if incentives through government policy are provided, such as through the development of the renewable energy sector, sustainable agriculture and tourism

This weekend the environment groups will join community climate action groups and tens of thousands of people expected to take in national climate emergency rallies to be held in every capital city.