Monday, July 13, 2009

Gore backs Govt's emissions trading push

ABC News Online, Posted Mon Jul 13, 2009

Climate change campaigner Al Gore has backed the Federal Government's push for emissions trading legislation to be passed by Parliament ahead of global talks later this year.

The Government is pressuring the Opposition to support its carbon pollution reduction scheme when the legislation comes before the Senate in August.

The Government says it is vital Australia has its scheme in place before international negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

In an interview with the ABC1's 7.30 Report, Mr Gore said it is important both Australia and the US set up emissions trading scheme soon.

"We're fortunate to have Barack Obama and Kevin Rudd in the positions they're in leading towards a solution for this crisis," he said.

"And I think it matters a lot if they are able to convince their parliamentarians, our members of the Senate to pass these laws before Copenhagen."

He said it would help global negotiations if both the US and Australia go to Copenhagen with laws already in place.

"Neither has gone as far as I would like to see but both have gone as far as the political limitations seem to make it possible to go and finishing that task in this first stage, before Copenhagen, I think is very important," he said.

But the Opposition believes the Government should wait to see the outcome of the Copenhagen talks before passing any laws.

Local targets

Mr Gore says more work needs to be done on reducing emissions in the short term.

"I agree with him because it's all too easy for politicians to say 50 years from now, sure, no problem, but the nearer term and medium term goals have more practical consequence for those that are in office today and it's more difficult but more meaningful," he said.

But he said the while the Government's medium term targets were not strong enough, the commitments were an important shift.

"Well no [they're not]. Nor is the legislation that I'm supporting in the US good enough," he said.

"But we live in democracies, with political limitations and as Winston Churchill famously said; democracy's the worst form of government in the world except for every other form that's been tried, and it can be extremely frustrating.

"But once the process of change begins, the whole system begins to shift and then further change begins to become easier to accomplish.

"Once we put a price on carbon, establish this system of limiting CO2 emissions, then that change will build on itself and we'll have a much better chance of solving the crisis."

But Mr Gore is unconvinced by the Government's push for carbon capture technology.

"I have some scepticism about how big a role that particular technology is going to play, but I hope I'm wrong," he said.

"I think it will play some role and it could well be that these demonstration projects will give us the basis for more hope that it will play a bigger role.

"And since both the United States and Australia have a lot of coal and burn a lot of coal, it's certainly a good idea to investigate as thoroughly as possible, how big a role this sequestration technology can play."

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