Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Protests continue over Govt's 5pc target

ABC News Online, Posted Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:34pm AEDT 

Updated Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:25pm AEDT

Fierce debate is continuing on the Federal Government's plan for a carbon pollution reduction scheme with a 5 per cent target.

Yesterday the Government committed to a 5 per cent reduction in 2000 emissions levels by 2020 but left open the possibility of cuts of up to 15 per cent if other countries get on board.

The Greens have condemned the 5 per cent cut as inadequate and say they will move for a Senate inquiry next year.

Today protesters in Adelaide pelted a man dressed as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with their shoes as part of nationwide protests against the emissions target.

Earlier, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the crowd there was little difference between Mr Rudd and former prime minister John Howard.

"What an embarrassment that Australia is only prepared to cut carbon emissions by 5 per cent," she said.

"Who would have thought that this was coming from a Rudd Labor Government who won their election based on the fact that they were going to be the party that took action on climate change."

In Sydney, at least 80 people gathered outside the Federal Government's offices in the CBD. They said a 5 per cent cut was as good as nothing and they called for a cut of a least 25 per cent.

In Hobart, about 150 people gathered on Parliament House lawns at lunchtime; some wore masks portraying federal Labor minsters who they said have betrayed Australians.

Climate scientist and former Australian of the Year Professor Tim Flannery says the Government's 5 per cent reduction target is too low.

"If we start seeing a dramatic shift in climate, there's no world bank we can go to bail us out, or any other government," he said.

"This is something where we are absolutely on our own. No-one is going to come to our rescue and what governments need to do now is put in place plans that are most effective in dealing with this crisis."

Possible Senate inquiry

Meanwhile the Coalition and the Greens look set to forge an unlikely alliance to force a Senate inquiry into the Government's emissions reduction target.

The Greens have condemned the 5 per cent cut as inadequate and say they will move for a Senate inquiry next year.

Federal Opposition climate change spokesman Andrew Robb has said the Coalition would back the motion.

"If the Greens want a Senate inquiry I'm sure that we wouldn't stand in its way," he told Lyndal Curtis on The World Today.

"We certainly ourselves will be looking to have the Senate look in a most exhaustive way at what the Government has put on the table."

The Opposition will not say whether it will support the scheme until an independent review into it is completed next year.

Mr Robb says it is "too early" to begin any negotiations with the Government to pass the laws in the Senate.

"If this thing doesn't work properly we will not only lose community support in Australia, but it will have an adverse impact on impressions towards an emissions trading scheme by many other countries around the world," he said.

Greens Senator Christine Milne says the inquiry would examine the Government's "weak" reduction target and its figures on the emissions reduction per head of population.

"We also need to have an analysis of the spin and misrepresentation the Government has engaged in on per capita emissions," she said.

"The spin that has been put on it is disgraceful so Australians need to have an understanding of that."

Cost to jobs

Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop says the Government must also focus on what the target means for jobs.

"The Australian Government is gambling with Australian jobs," she said.

But the head of the Australian workers union, Paul Howes, says the target is workable for those he represents.

"Every tonne of aluminium we make here in Australia compared to a tonne of aluminium made in China has 50 per cent less emissions, so I believe that our industries are green jobs," he said.

But he says the target should not be lifted unless there is a global deal.

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