Environment Victoria has hailed the State Governments’ initial agreement to establish an emission trading scheme as a massive victory that could usher in a new, clean economy for Australia.
“The importance of this first step cannot be overstated. It is historic and, if designed well, will boost the economy, create employment and, most importantly, reduce our greenhouse emissions – which are among the highest in the world,” said EV’s climate change coordinator Tricia Phelan.
“Ideally the Howard Government would take the lead, but in the absence of any Federal leadership the Bracks Government is to be congratulated for spearheading this scheme with the other states.”
Ms Phelan said global warming was the most serious issue facing society.
“We must dramatically reduce greenhouse pollution if the world is to avoid the dangers of flooding, extreme weather, bushfires, droughts and melting icecaps.
“Emission trading started in the European Union this year and it is already taking place on the London Stock Exchange. Up until now, foreign competitors were outpacing Australian businesses.”
Ms Phelan urged Premiers to now ensure the scheme was well designed and allowed no sweeteners for highly-polluting industries.
“The overriding goal must be to reduce emissions, so the scheme must create a level playing field. There should be no special deals for major polluters, such as Hazelwood, Australia’s most greenhouse polluting power station, which is currently seeking to expand.
“The scheme would be compromised if it allowed different rules for large emitters.”
She said a well-designed scheme would be extremely effective in reducing emissions: “But it could be less effective if poorly designed. The states must ensure any scheme is compatible with international schemes and has strong monitoring and enforcement.
“Emission trading is one of the most effective forms of regulation for reducing greenhouse pollution, but it is not a panacea. It does not eliminate the need for innovation and improvement in industry. Additional measures will also be needed to enable renewable energy to establish itself as an industry and compete with fossil fuels.”