Leadership on Emissions Trading Scheme desperately needed

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 23 Jun 2009

The proposed Emissions Trading Scheme needs to be urgently amended if Australia is to play a leadership role at international climate negotiations, Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said today.
Parliament is debating the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation this week.
“There are the two key elements that the world is looking for from Australia in the lead-up to the UN Copenhagen meeting on climate change in December,” Mr Hewett said.
“Our Emissions Trading Scheme that is passed must include cuts of 40 per cent by 2020 in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. It also needs to generate Australia’s share of the funding that is needed to help developing countries to reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change.
“Currently, it does neither,” he said.
Mr Hewett said Australia’s Emissions Trading Scheme could offer the solution to the humanitarian question of who pays for emissions reductions in developing countries.
Developing countries throughout the world – from the small nations of the Pacific to the nations of Sub-Saharan Africa – have contributed least to the problem of climate change, but their populations are bearing the greatest impact of climate change through rising sea levels, desertification, worse storms and food and water shortages.
To live up to the agreement made in Bali in 2007 regarding support for developing countries to adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions, Oxfam calculates that developed countries between them must provide at least $187bn per year.
“We will all benefit from developing countries reducing their emissions, but they can’t achieve this without our help,” Mr Hewett said.
“As a high per capita polluter, Australia’s fair share of the finance towards adaptation and emissions reductions in developing countries is $4.3 billion annually, starting from 2013 when the new global climate deal begins.
“This will be roughly the same amount of money that Australia’s proposed Emissions Trading Scheme will be giving to big polluters in free permits in 2012-13.”
Mr Hewett said that Australia has the opportunity to play a leadership role to get a climate deal at Copenhagen, or it can let that opportunity slip by and lower the chances of a safe climate.
“We are at a point in time where our actions, or worse our inaction, will have a major impact on future generations, not just in Australia but worldwide,” Mr Hewett said.
“The bottom line is, if the Government fixed this legislation, there would be a greater likelihood of getting it passed and no risk of a double dissolution election.”
For further information please contact Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100 or laurellek@oxfam.org.au