Response to the Rudd Government’s amendments to the Carbon Polluters Rewards Scheme (CPRS)

The letter below was sent to Kevin Rudd today and signed by 66 climate action groups, including Yarra Climate Action Now.

RE: PROPOSED CHANGES TO AUSTRALIA’S TARGET AND CPRS

Dear Prime Minister,

The 66 Climate Action Groups signing this letter are completely shocked by your decision yesterday to further weaken Australia’s position on climate change.

We believe that you have abandoned your duty of care to protect the Australian people as well as our species and habitats from dangerous climate change.

Groups strongly oppose your new 2020 emissions reduction target band of 5-25% below 2000 levels:

  • We have consistently called for targets based on the best available climate science, which calls for reductions of at least 40 – 50% by developed countries by 2020.
  • The 5% unconditional target would, according to the world’s top scientists, commit us to catastrophic climate change and the IPCC’s worst-case scenarios.
  • The 25% upper target, if applied globally, would lead to at least 2°C of warming and the loss of the Great Barrier Reef. This is an untenable position and we cannot accept it.
  • These targets also remain out of step with the unconditional targets agreed to by other developed nations (the UK, US and EU have agreed to cut emissions by 34-46%, 20% and 20-30% from 1990 levels respectively).

Groups also assert that a global agreement based on 450ppm CO2e will not protect the Great Barrier Reef, as you suggested yesterday. International scientists estimate that atmospheric CO2 needs to be no more than 350ppm, but preferably closer to 300ppm, to avoid dangerous climate change.

Your decision to further weaken the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) by increasing the number of free permits, delaying the Scheme by a year and introducing a $10 price cap in the first year, completely flies in the face of the thousands of submissions that were lodged by concerned communities, scientists and individuals.

Groups, once again, recommend you urgently fix the fundamental flaws in the CPRS:

  • Urgently exclude international permits from the CPRS so that actual emissions in Australia will begin to fall from 2010 onwards, rather than reductions only taking place from 2035 onwards (as forecast by the Federal Treasury).
  • Remove the emission floor in the CPRS (which prevents emissions from falling below the 5% target), to ensure that individual action can contribute to additional emissions abatement over and above the 5-25% emissions reduction target band.
  • The proposed ‘Australian Carbon Trust’ does not address our concerns on the need for individual action to be additional to the 5% target. The Trust simply formalises what individuals were always able to do anyway. Nomatter what individuals do to reduce emissions we can never go beyond the 5% target.
  • Exclude both reforestation and deforestation from the Scheme – Groups note the current treatment creates a market distortion in favour of increasing native forest logging. This requires urgent rectification.
  • Replace ALL free-permits in the CPRS with a system of Border Adjustments, to ensure that these sectors transition to a lower emissions intensity without being unduly disadvantaged in the international market.
  • Change the requirements for the $3.9 billion of assistance to coal-fired generators under the CPRS to be conditional upon a phase-out plan for these generators.

Yesterday’s announcement has confirmed to us that you have not been able to stand up to the immense pressure exerted upon you by industry.

Your election promises to the Australian people on climate change were clear and unequivocal. Despite all of this, you have chosen to put industry interests above the national interest.

We stand by our comments to the Senate last month – we believe that your climate change ‘spin’ is deceptive and misleading to both the Australian public and the international community.

The 66 Climate Action Groups signing this letter urge you to treat climate change as the emergency it is, and broker an ambitious new climate deal for Australia that truly addresses the needs of future generations, builds new jobs in ecologically sustainable industries and protects our precious species and habitats.

Yours sincerely,

Yarra Climate Action Now and 65 other climate action groups