Greens push for public transport in emissions scheme

By: Jason Whittaker

As the Federal Government begins negotiations with the Opposition on its carbon reduction scheme, the Greens are renewing a push

As the Federal Government begins negotiations with the Opposition on its carbon reduction scheme, the Greens are renewing a push to include transport emissions in any trading framework.

The Greens will present its amendments to the Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) today, which Deputy Leader Christine Milne says will "ensure that transport is covered by the scheme".

The party says the amendments provide the basis for an agreement that the Senate could support and would have a "meaningful" impact on the climate.

"These comprehensive amendments would turn a scheme that locks in failure into an effective and efficient scheme that would pay a key role in addressing the climate crisis," Milne says.

"These sensible amendments are supported by the best scientific and economic advice...and the Government would do well to support them."

Milne says the new amendments also call for the removal of market "distortions" such as the price cap and the ban on permit export, and will protect not destroy jobs throughout the country.

"The Government and Opposition’s proposals will not protect a single job – all they do is bolster corporate profits. The Greens amendments will protect and create jobs," she says.

"If Mr Rudd and Senator Wong are serious about getting an emissions trading scheme in place, they should be talking to all members of the Senate, particularly those who are serious about meaningful action on climate change."

The Greens are also launching their own climate change strategy today: the Safe Climate Bill.

Launched at Parliament House today, the Safe Climate Bill is a collection of 12 linked bills based around the pillars of renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transport and forest protection, supported by a carbon pricing scheme, targeting 40 percent emissions cuts below 1990 levels by 2020.

The Bus Industry Confederation is supporting the Greens’ CPRS amendments and its Safe Climate Bill, arguing the party has a very high focus on sustainable transport outcomes and public transport initiatives.

"The problem with the current Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) is that it includes public transport just like everything else – we’re being treated like the truckies," says BIC Executive Director Michael Apps.

"What it proposes within the first year of its introduction, buses will get a set percent of subsidy based on expected increases in fuel prices. After that you’ll wear it.

"We’re arguing that public transport is actually an environmentally-friendly industry."

Apps echoes Milne, saying the BIC doesn’t have much confidence in the Coalition "because they’re not sure what they want to do".

"The key to it is having an outcome that actually delivers an overall reduction in emissions and improves climate change outcomes," Apps says.

"The current package as it exists doesn’t deliver any of those things. It satisfies some of the punters but certainly none of the environmental groups and certainly not public transport advocates as it currently stands.

"We’ve been working with all the political parties. Kevin Rudd keeps moving around every time Penny Wong gets criticised for taking a hard line.

"Hopefully the Greens and perhaps the Independents in the Senate are going to provide an outcome that the government is going to be able to live with."

The Greens' amendments:
  • insert environmentally effective emissions reduction targets of 25 percent unconditional and 40 percent in the context of global action, in line with the UN Bali Negotiating Range
  • adopt Professor Garnaut's economically credible proposals to:
    • auction all permits
    • compensate trade exposed industries only to the value of their lost competitiveness, not for lost profits and
    • not compensate electricity generators at all.

  • fix the problem of undermining additional and voluntary action by providing for such action to be tallied and equivalent emissions cut from the following year's target
  • remove market distortions such as the price cap and the ban on permit export
  • ensure that transport is covered by the scheme and
  • only allow the import of the most highly credible permits and restrict total imports to ensure credibility of the scheme and drive domestic economic transformation.

The Safe Climate Bill:
  • enshrines in Australian law an ultimate global goal of bringing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere back to 350 parts per million
  • establishes an effective emissions trading scheme that will genuinely cut emissions and transform the economy to a sustainable footing
  • introduces a suite of measures aimed at achieving 100 percent renewable energy in Australia in the coming decades
  • introduces a suite of measures to upgrade all of Australia's homes, offices and industry for energy efficiency
  • establishes the pathway to a sustainable transport future
  • protects and builds our carbon stores in forests and soils and
  • creates hundreds of thousands of jobs in making this transformation a reality.

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