News | 27th Mar, 2012

Environment Minister Ryan Smith says no reason for Victorian target

Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Grant McArthur, Herald Sun

Victoria is walking away from its 20 per cent emissions reduction target, watering down the state's green commitment in line with the Federal Government's much lower environmental expectations.

The Baillieu Government will today reveal it is signing up to the Gillard Government's greenhouse gas reduction target of 5 per cent by 2020, scrapping the more onerous pre-existing state-based pledge to avoid a $2.2 billion black hole in the State Budget.

Environment Minister Ryan Smith said an independent report had found there was "no compelling case" to maintain a Victorian target when a national scheme was coming into effect under the Gillard Government's carbon tax package.

If the state retained the 20 per cent target when the rest of Australia was only aiming for a 5 per cent reduction, Victorian taxpayers would have been slugged for billions of dollars in extra international carbon offset payments to compensate for its pollution, Mr Smith said.

"Victoria will play its fair share towards reducing Australia's overall greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

"However, we should not burden Victorians with paying for the share of other states or by sending money overseas to purchase emission permits."

In 2010, the former Labor government legislated for a 20 per cent emissions reduction this decade – a target the Coalition agreed to.

But the Coalition will now tear up the legislation in accordance with a provision to review the target if a national scheme came into place, such as the arrangements spelt out in the Gillard Government's emission trading scheme and carbon tax.

Mr Smith said the review found a state-based target would lead to Victorians subsidising emissions abatement for other states, distort the national scheme and would not assist abatement.

The Government's official decision to scrap the 20 per cent emissions reduction comes six months after Treasurer Kim Wells incorrectly said the target was "aspirational" rather than legislated.

Labor proposals included replacing the Hazelwood brown coal power station.

Environment Victoria CEO Kelly O'Shanassy said the Baillieu Government had broken its promise by caving in to the demands of a handful of polluters.


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Read what The Age had to say about this here

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