Climate Change groups tell Penny Wong Green Jobs are Real Jobs and reject current CPRS

Local climate change group Clean Energy For Eternity* is one of the sixty-five Climate Action Groups (CAGs) representing thousands of people from across Australia which has rejected Penny Wong’s claim that taking more dramatic measures to address climate change would be ‘economically destructive…and drive jobs and pollution offshore’[i]

In an open letter to the Minister, CAGs said recent natural disasters such as the Victorian bushfires, heat waves in Adelaide and flooding in North Queensland revealed the nation’s need to strengthen its resolve to cut greenhouse emissions and bring about a robust global agreement on climate action.

“The protection of the ecological and climatic systems that support life on earth is essential. We believe that every emissions reduction tool and Government expenditure package currently being considered in Australia should be underpinned by the need to return our planet to a safe climate zone,” the letter said.

“It is not the Australian way to do as little as we possibly can at the expense of the millions of people, species and habitats that will be affected by climate change (including our own). This is not the legacy we wish to leave for our children.”

CAGs believe that Australia has a “priceless opportunity” to deal coherently with the “dual threats of climate change and the global economic meltdown. This invaluable opportunity must not be missed.”

Climate Action Groups, made up of people from all walks of life, urged the Government to focus on the “immense employment and export opportunities that the transition to an emissions-free economy would present for all Australians.”

A joint report prepared by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Australian Conservation Foundation found that implementation of intelligent and proactive policies could generate an additional 500,000 green jobs in Australia by 2030[ii] .

The Government’s view that higher emissions reduction targets would be ‘economically destructive’ is inconsistent with its own Federal Treasury modeling. According to Treasury, “ Australia ’s aggregate economic costs of mitigation are small” and the cost to the economy of reducing emissions by 25% by 2020 would be to slow GDP by a mere 0.2% per year[iii] .

Groups decided to oppose the current CPRS because its 5-15% target is appallingly low and it discourages voluntary emission reduction efforts. “By locking in a low target now, Australia will effectively undermine the Copenhagen UN Climate process in December, betraying not only the Australian people in its duty of care, but also people and nations across the globe.”

Once the legislation goes through, the target cannot be increased before 2020 without paying substantial compensation to industries covered by the Scheme. “If individual action achieves the 5% within two years then other sectors of the economy covered by the CPRS can continue emitting in a business-as-usual scenario for another 8 years (until 2020)”, the letter said.

If the scheme goes ahead as proposed, Australians wanting to help reduce emissions would be better off investing in renewable energy and climate projects overseas as these would at least help to reduce global emissions. This flies in the face of logic, as it “will drive investment in jobs overseas rather than much needed investment in green jobs in Australia”, the letter said.

*CEFE was one of over 150 grass roots climate change groups that took part in the Australian Climate Action Summit in Canberra in early February. All groups recognized the need to improve the status of national carbon sinks, make rapid progress on energy efficiency and pro-actively develop the renewable energy sector. CEFE agrees with the national draft policy statement that biomass from native forestry waste should not be permitted. While CEFE is not opposed to biomass as such, the organisation firmly rejects the inclusion of bio-energy from native forest ‘wood waste’ as a renewable source.