News | 27th Mar, 2012

Vic government dumps carbon target

Tuesday, 27 March 2012
9 News

The clean energy industry is being wiped out in Victoria by the Baillieu government, which has axed the state's 20 per cent greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, critics say.

An independent review to be tabled in parliament on Tuesday has reportedly found no compelling case to maintain the higher target, with the state expected to back the federal government's target to cut emissions by five per cent over the next decade.

Victorian Environment Minister Ryan Smith said keeping the 20 per cent target would cost Victoria $2.2 billion and tackling climate change was a national responsibility.

"There is a federal target of five per cent – I don't believe that Victorians should pay four times the cost of their state counterparts," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"We will be working in concert with the federal government to see what programs that we currently have in place are appropriate to maintain."

Environment Victoria chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy said Premier Ted Baillieu had caved in to the demands of polluters.

"It's a terrible decision by the Baillieu government and basically puts the nail in the coffin for a clean energy future for Victoria," she told reporters.

"It's environmentally reckless … the Baillieu government either don't believe in climate change, don't understand the impacts of climate change or don't care."

Only nine of 367 submissions to the Climate Change Act Review supported dumping the target, Ms O'Shanassy said.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said investment in the wind energy industry had dried up since the coalition came to power and introduced some of the most restrictive planning laws in the world.

Axing the 20 per cent target would be like putting up a sign that Victoria was closed for business, he said.

"We've got tens of thousands of Victorians out of work every month," he told reporters.

"We need to pedal faster, we need to do more.

"It's not the time to be taking a step backwards, it's not the time to be turning our backs on the economic and employment opportunities that clean energy can present to us."

Mr Andrews said the government was trying to avoid scrutiny by calling a press conference based on a report it was yet to release.

"The minister this morning has come out to tell us that this target is dead, this so-called environment minister – a fraud, a sham – but he won't provide the report or answer any detailed questions," he said.

Mr Andrews would not commit to restoring the 20 per cent target should Labor win office at the November 2014 election.

Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) chief economist Steven Wojtkiw says scrapping the state target is a sensible move that will take the pressure off business.

"We already have a national emissions reduction target and the impending carbon tax, so it's good news for Victorian business," Mr Wojtkiw told reporters.

"The fact that we were at risk of having two targets, two plans, two burdens and costs on business, meant that would put jobs and investment at risk."


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