Australians are already suffering from the impacts of climate change and fossil fuel dependence. Worsening droughts, bushfires and floods are costing lives, damaging our economy, and increasing food prices. Our reliance on oil and gas is exposing us to severe economic shocks as the prices of these fuels increase.
Australia must play its part in rapidly reducing emissions globally, or else these impacts will continue to worsen and more lives will be lost, eventually reaching a point where adaptation will be impossible.
A price on carbon is a good first step (but only a first step) towards a zero emissions economy, provided it is fair and designed appropriately. We congratulate the Labor Party, Greens and independents for committing to a price on carbon and urge them not to capitulate to the bullying and greed of the fossil fuel industry.
A fair and well-designed carbon price mechanism should result in the replacement of fossil fuel infrastructure like Hazelwood Power Station with renewable energy. To that end it must include:
- No “compensation” for polluting corporations;
- No right to purchase dodgy offsets here or overseas instead of paying the carbon price;
- Inclusion of petrol and natural gas;
- Indexed compensation for low income households so they are better off (on average) under the scheme;
- All the money left over after low income households are compensated should be invested in renewable energy projects;
- Indexed annual increases in the carbon price higher than the background inflation; and
- An initial price of at least $70 per tonne to promote wind energy rather than gas. Solar energy should be promoted through other means (see below).
It is obvious that a price on carbon is nowhere near enough to get us to a prosperous and sustainable economy. Additional measures are urgently needed and should be included as part of this carbon price package. These measures must include:
- A long-term plan for a zero emissions economy and a roadmap for how to get there;
- An end to all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies;
- A feed-in tariff for large-scale renewable energy – particularly baseload solar thermal, which is commercially available right now;
- An end to land clearing and logging of old-growth forests;
- A ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure, including gas-fired power stations;
- A transition plan and job guarantees for communities and workers who lose employment and economic activity due to the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy (renewable energy creates two jobs for every job lost in coal so it won’t be that hard);
- A mass roll-out of energy efficiency measures, particularly for residential and commercial buildings; and
- A shift in investment from roads to public transport, including high-speed rail between capital cities.