Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Green plan on emissions

Adam Morton 
The Age, June 11, 2009

A RIFT within the environment movement will widen today when a dozen green groups call on Canberra to discard the emissions trading scheme and move to Plan B on climate change.

Rejecting the argument that a flawed scheme is better than nothing, the coalition of groups representing more than 400,000 members will warn that the current model fails to address climate science that is tracking beyond worst-case predictions.

Groups including Greenpeace, the Wilderness Society and Friends of the Earth will urge the Government to introduce policies they say could be set up within two years and put Australia on a path to cut emissions in half over the next decade. It would provide time to rethink how to put a price on greenhouse emissions.

The call comes as the emissions trading bill faces an unlikely path through a hostile Senate and puts the groups at odds with other green organisations that last month called for the Government's proposal to be passed into law.

The Climate Institute, the Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF Australia have given the Government qualified support after it opened up the possibility of a 25 per cent cut in emissions below 2000 levels by 2020.

The Plan B report, backed by nine conservation groups, argues the scheme "perversely rewards big polluters and will result in Australia's greenhouse gas emissions continuing to rise" as it allows an unlimited number of carbon credits to be bought offshore by cutting emissions in poor countries.

Greenpeace campaign director Steve Campbell said: "We need to take the complementary measures now and put in an emissions trading scheme or carbon tax once we sort the problems out."

The proposals include:

* Using available technology to cut energy use in manufacturing, commercial building and homes by 30 per cent, with an average payback time of four years.

* Minimum seven-star rating for new homes and five-star for commercial buildings, schools, hospitals and warehouses.

* Adopting an emissions intensity target for new cars of 130 grams per kilometre by 2012 and investing in electric vehicles and public transport.

* A moratorium on new coal-fired power stations.

* The creation of nearly a million "green jobs".

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