Monday, June 30, 2008

Wong says Australians want leadership on climate change

Senator Wong expects more public discussion after Ross Garnaut's climate change report is released. (ABC News: file photo)

The Federal Minister for Climate Change says Australians want the Government to address climate change and are concerned about Greenhouse emissions.

The latest Newspoll shows 61 per cent of those surveyed are in favour of an emissions trading scheme (ETS) while over 56 per cent said they would pay higher energy costs to reduce global warming.

Senator Wong says she expects there will be positive and negative polls as the scheme is formulated.

"But let's be clear here, the Government is not designing an emissions trading scheme on the basis of polls, we're designing it for the long-term economic future of the country," she said.

"I think what Australians have shown us as was demonstrated in the lead-up to the election last year - people are concerned about climate change, they are concerned about its economic impacts and its environmental impacts and they want political leaders to do something about it."

Senator Wong says she expects more public discussion after Ross Garnaut's climate change report and the Government's green paper are released.

"This is a very big issue, it is something that is about the long-term future of the nation, it's about the national interest. It's a discussion that needs to continue," she said.

Newspoll figures show that 18-34 year olds were strongest to support the ETS at 73 per cent.

The poll also shows that Australians are almost evenly split over whether petrol should be included in the scheme, with 46 per cent in favour and 42 per cent against.

The Government has not yet revealed whether petrol will be included and the Opposition has not clearly stated its position either.

Senator Wong says she is preparing to strike a balance between environmental and economic interests.

"There is no menu of easy options when it comes to tackling climate change and when it comes to implementing an emissions trading scheme," she said.

"So of course we will have a range of views we have to consider.

"There are a range of things we have to manage through this process so we have to look at just not the environmental issues.

"We have to be very clear about how we make this economic transition."

Meanwhile the Greens have put the Federal Government on notice to set tough reduction targets after it receives the Garnaut report.

Greens Senator Christine Milne says she will be looking to the Government to commit to cutting emissions by 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020.

"The key thing that people want to see is a serious cap on emissions," she said.

"In other words we need to know what effort the Government's going to make to reduce emissions by 2020 and we're saying that is should be at the top end."

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