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Brendan Nelson MP Leader of the Opposition PO Box 6022 House of ...
Brendan Nelson MP Leader of the Opposition PO Box 6022 House of Representatives Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 Dear Mr Nelson, An effective emissions trading scheme to reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions deserves bipartisan support. GetUp has highlighted the importance of Ross Garnaut’s Draft Report to the Australian community through our online animation summarising Garnaut’s key findings, recommendations, and our response. The animation has already received media coverage, and can be viewed in full at our website www.getup.org.au. GetUp agrees wholeheartedly with Minister Penny Wong when she noted, “Professor Garnaut’s report makes it absolutely clear that the time for playing short term political games is over.” This challenge is too great and the consequences too high for the Opposition to play populist politics and get the design of the emissions trading scheme wrong. We are currently very concerned about your comments to stick to the Coalition’s 2007 policy. This line was tried and tested at the voting both and Australians overwhelming rejected it. A current Newspoll found 61% of Australians continue to support an Emissions Trading Scheme even if there is no ‘world start date’ and increased personal costs. Julia Bishop, Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt have spent the week clarifying your ‘misunderstood’ position to in fact support an ETS by 2012. Now Liberal backbencher’s such as Russell Trood, Petro Georgiou and Judi Moylan are calling for a better position. As Mr Trood put it "I think there is some political value in us demonstrating a willingness to go forward." Your comment that “we should not start an emissions trading scheme in Australia until we are absolutely confident it is ready to commence, and also that the rest of the world has a start date for dealing with climate change,” fails to take two realities into account. Firstly, climate change is occurring much faster and more severely than predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – meaning that we must not hesitate any further to take action to urgently reduce Australia’s emissions. Secondly, many parts of “the rest of the world” are already taking aggressive action to deal with climate change, most notably Europe and several states in the US. Furthermore, a strong reduction cap and emissions trading scheme in Australia will be one of the decisive factors in bringing many other countries on board to adopt strong reduction targets for the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol. It is essential that the Australian scheme is designed and committed to by both parties before the Copenhagen UNFCCC negotiations in December GETUP LTD ABN: 99 114 027 986 PO Box A105 Sydney South, NSW, 1235 Phone: 02 9264 4037 Fax: 02 9283 1371 firstname.lastname@example.org www.getup.org.au 2009. This will demonstrate Australia’s good faith and commitment to reducing our emissions before this negotiating meeting, which is crucial to the future of all of our grandchildren. We look with hope to the political situation in the UK, where both parties are competing to be the leader on climate solutions, with the UK Opposition calling for annual 3% emission reduction targets. Solving climate change is both economically responsible and morally important. There is no reason why the Opposition in Australia cannot champion solving climate change as a major policy issue, and push the Government to adopt stronger emission reduction targets. We are disappointed that you have not taken this path at this point in time. Industry requests for compensation will certainly decrease the effectiveness of the ETS, both by undermining the price signal that it is designed to send, and by reducing the pool of revenue available to switch Australia to a low-carbon economy, in a way that is fair to low-income communities. As Garnaut pointed out, no one was compensated when Australia floated the dollar. GetUp’s criteria for an effective emissions trading scheme are: • a strong emissions cap where emissions begin reducing by 2010, and have been reduced 50% over 1990 levels by 2020; • coverage of all sectors emitting greenhouse pollution, including transport (especially aviation); • 100 per cent auctioning of emissions permits - no free permits to pollute to go to carbon-intensive industries; • no compensation to industry, but assistance to low-income households to reduce energy; • revenue from the trading scheme to go to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and public transport. We would like to share with you our thoughts on some of these areas, and look forward to receiving your response on the design of the emissions trading scheme. Coverage of All Sectors We note that Garnaut supports including the transport sector in the ETS, stating “the more sectors included in the emissions trading scheme, the more efficiently costs will be shared across the economy”. GetUp agrees with this position. 100% Auctioning of Permits Consistent with previous statements, the Garnaut Review supports 100 per cent auctioning of permits. GetUp agrees with this position – polluting industries must not be given free permits. However, we strongly disagree with Garnaut’s proposed ‘second-best option’ of only starting this auctioning in 2012. A government cap on permit price is problematic, because it means a very slow start to the ETS - the price of carbon would be fixed for the first two crucial years, at a lower price than what the market would set. GETUP LTD ABN: 99 114 027 986 PO Box A105 Sydney South, NSW, 1235 Phone: 02 9264 4037 Fax: 02 9283 1371 email@example.com www.getup.org.au Garnaut’s proposed “reduction” target for these first two years would only be our Kyoto target, which as you are aware is not a reduction target at all since it allows an 8% increase in emissions over 1990 levels. It is important that an unconstrained ETS begin in 2010, so Australia’s emissions actually start decreasing as soon as possible. We are very concerned with Brendan Nelson’s statements calling for Kevin Rudd to break his election promise of a 2010 start date. Revenue from the ETS GetUp is concerned about Garnaut’s proposed allocation of the money raised by the ETS. Only 20 per cent to deploying and commercialising the technologies we need to solve climate change is simply not enough. More of this money should go to large-scale deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as used to create new green jobs so we have the people to do the work to save the climate. GetUp is also concerned about the 30% for compensation to affected industries. We do not believe that carbon-intensive industries should be “compensated” because of the impact of the ETS. This would impede the fundamental economic transformation needed to switch Australia’s economy to a low-carbon one. Of course, some industries will need to be phased out in a way that is fair to workers and communities, rather than to the profit margins of industries that have refused to deal with the reality of climate change for years. The point of a cap and trade scheme is to decouple the link between greenhouse pollution and profit – contributing to the profits of carbon-intensive industries contradicts this aim. Every dollar given to polluting industries is a dollar less that can go to greater energy efficiency and insulation programs for low-income households, or a dollar less for a new wind farm or solar project. In particular, money to assist low-income households is important, and should help these households reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, thus saving large amounts of money over time. This means energy efficiency programs and huge investments in public transport in outer suburban areas. Providing low-carbon alternatives gives permanent relief from rising prices and supports the scheme’s goal of reducing greenhouse emissions. As you may be aware, GetUp is also running a ‘Fix Transport’ campaign requesting that one quarter of the ‘Building Australia’ fund - $5 billion – be invested in public transport. We would like to hear your response to this campaign, which be continuing throughout 2008, concurrently with our campaign for effective climate solutions. Ongoing Climate Campaigns Our member surveys reveal that climate change remains the top priority issue for the GetUp community of 280,000 members. This reflects the very broad concern on climate change held by the overwhelming majority of Australians. Our campaigns for effective solutions, particularly for a 50% by 2020 reduction cap (over 1990 levels) will continue to grow over the next few months and we look forward to being in close contact with your office over that time. GETUP LTD ABN: 99 114 027 986 PO Box A105 Sydney South, NSW, 1235 Phone: 02 9264 4037 Fax: 02 9283 1371 firstname.lastname@example.org www.getup.org.au We would appreciate your swift response to our comments on the design of the emissions trading scheme, and look forward to your response to July 13’s green paper. We urge you not to fall back on short-term populist politics around the ETS, and instead to craft responsible and far-sighted Coalition policies on the emissions trading scheme that is broadly in line with the Garnaut Review. Sincerely, Brett Solomon Executive Director, GetUp GETUP LTD ABN: 99 114 027 986 PO Box A105 Sydney South, NSW, 1235 Phone: 02 9264 4037 Fax: 02 9283 1371 email@example.com www.getup.org.au
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