Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Climate change: A farce

That's the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's view of the government's proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme:

Dr Wright says she is particularly concerned with subsidies to polluters being locked in.

“Right now we’re subsidising ninety-five percent of big polluters’ emissions. That was due to be phased out, albeit too slowly, but the Bill will leave those subsidies in place indefinitely.

“I am very concerned that the review process that would address these subsidies along with other ETS issues will no longer be compulsory but will occur only if the Minister wants it to.

“Heavily subsidised polluters have no incentive whatsoever to reduce their emissions when the tab for them is being picked up by the taxpayer.

The actual submission [PDF] uses harsher language, and opposes all of the significant proposed amendments. Extending pollution subsidies will mean we have no chance of reaching the goals the government has set. Removing statutory review provisions will reduce transparency and accountability. Permanently excluding agriculture will mean there is simply no incentive to clean up our most polluting industry. And failing to limit the use of overseas credits both removes any incentive for domestic emissions reductions, and prevents linking with overseas ETSs. These are terrible policies, and they are all going to have to be unravelled (if only to protect the financial situation of the government). But National is more interested in protecting its farmer-cronies than in protecting the country from climate change.