Greens want new trucks and no transition to ETS

By: Jason Whittaker

The trucking industry should be forced to use new vehicles and not be permitted to transition to a low-carbon economy,

The trucking industry should be forced to use new vehicles and not be permitted to transition to a low-carbon economy, the Greens argue.

While supporting Garnaut’s call for 30 percent of revenue from carbon permits to be spent assisting businesses, a spokesman for the party's spokeswoman on climate change Senator Christine Milne tells ATN it should be spent on "provisional alternatives".

This includes forcing operators in the short-term to use trucks that meet the latest environmental standards followed in the long-term by mandating freight on rail.

The Greens also want money to be linked to training programs to educate workers in energy-intensive industries on how to adapt to climate change.

But this should not extend to fixed carbon permits, according to Milne. She has accused economist Ross Garnaut of being "disingenuous" in suggesting the Rudd Government fix the price of carbon permits for two years to allow energy-intensive industries, such as the heavy vehicle sector, to adapt to emissions trading.

Garnaut flagged the option of fixed price permits "in the early years" of the emissions trading scheme which, he says, will reduce the need to financially compensate energy-intensive industries until free-market permits start.

"This would be a large advantage," he says.

But according to Milne, it makes economic and environmental sense to implement "rapid, transformative policies" rather than providing industries time to adjust business operations.

Milne argues moving immediately to a zero-carbon economy will bring costs down sooner, saying an incremental approach will only jeopardise Australia’s future.

"If we are to have a real chance of avoiding catastrophic, runaway climate change, we will need rapid, transformative policies to build a new post-carbon economy, not ad hoc, incremental change that prioritises increasing our wealth over protecting our future," Milne says.

Under emissions trading, the Government will set a carbon threshold and hand out permits up to that limit. Industries will then need to buy permits to pollute. If they need more permits, they will have to vie for more under an auction process.

The Greens are taking offence to Garnaut’s position of transitioning to a low-carbon economy despite arguing climate change requires urgent action.

"Garnaut’s warning that delay is not an option is completely disingenuous in the context of his recommendation of a slow start to the scheme, capping the price of carbon before 2012 and not seeking to go beyond Australia’s pitiful commitment in Kyoto’s first phase," Milne says.

Following the release of Garnaut’s interim report, the Federal Government will release its green paper in the coming weeks, which will determine whether fuel will be part of an emissions trading scheme.

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