October 30, 2013
Tom Allard, Peter Hannam
A report by the Climate Change Authority will provide government with a series of options to lift Australia’s bipartisan goal of reducing emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 but the government’s policy is not to endorse any increase.
The draft report, to be released on Wednesday morning, is understood to canvas options for increasing the goal, providing a spectrum of targets above 5 per cent and explaining how the government might achieve them.
“So many people around Australia will be disappointed beyond belief.”: Christine Milne. Photo: Penny Bradfield
It will also report on how to fulfil Labor’s other target while in government, to slash emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
Earlier this week, 13 European environment ministers called for the European Union to raise its target for cutting emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by decade’s end. Australia’s target of a 5 per cent reduction in emissions is benchmarked against 2000 levels, which are similar to 1990 levels.
Britain has also called for the EU to aim for a 50 per cent reduction by 2030. The Obama administration has said the US is on course to slice emissions 17 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020. The US also aims to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
But the Coalition government wants to abolish the Climate Change Authority before it issues a final report in February and is wedded to a 5 per cent cut in emissions.
It has a separate review of emissions targets planned for 2015.
On Tuesday, a Fairfax Media report revealed a shift within the Labor leadership towards supporting legislation repealing the carbon tax while maintaining in-principle backing for alternative methods of carbon pricing such as an emissions trading scheme.
But, as the report stated, such support for a repeal of the carbon tax would depend on the government maintaining a ”legal limit” on carbon emissions.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt did not respond to questions on Tuesday about whether the government remained committed to its emissions target of 5 per cent and whether it would remain enshrined in law.
The Fairfax Media report of Labor’s repositioning on the legislation repealing the carbon tax sparked criticism from the Greens of a ”cave-in” while young environmentalists staged a small protest outside the office of deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek on Tuesday afternoon.
”Labor is positioning itself to backflip and cave in once again on actually addressing global warming,” Greens leader Christine Milne told reporters in Hobart on Tuesday. ”So many people around Australia will be disappointed beyond belief.”
Labor environment spokesman Mark Butler said a final decision would be taken when shadow cabinet meets but left open supporting the repeal of the carbon tax.
”Although we support the termination of the carbon tax, we insist that there must be a legal limit on carbon pollution and there must be a proper mechanism to get to that point,” he said.
Under the strategy being mulled by Labor’s leadership, the opposition would develop the details of its emissions trading policy closer to the next election.
It would maintain its opposition to the government’s $3.2 billion direct action plan, which would mean taxpayers footing the bill for carbon emission reductions.
The Sydney Morning Herald