The proposed amendments put forward by the Greens are not outlandish in the international context. The minimum 25 per cent abatement target is no more than what is put forward by the European Union and Japan, and somewhat less than the 40 per cent cut announced by the heavily oil-dependent Norway, who see such a reduction as the greatest economic opportunity for their country.
The Greens’ proposed accelerated push to renewables and energy efficiency would merely be playing catch-up to most of the developed world and China, the treatment of trade-exposed industries and the energy utilities is similar to that proposed by Professor Ross Garnaut, the limiting of international credit purchases is consistent with that proposed by the US and which is current policy in the EU, and the treatment of voluntary action on emission reductions and the FBT is just plain common sense.
More than that, what the Greens propose is what has been lacking in this country to date – a national carbon policy that actually sets a path on how Australia should de-carbonise. As one prominent consultant noted: “If you don’t think that’s a good idea, then the amendments are terrible. “
But you don’t have to believe just the Greens to appreciate the scale of change that must occur even within the next decade, either as a result of the world’s attempts to tackle climate change or of its failure to do so.
The International Energy Agency, in a document it prepared for the recent Bangkok climate talks, called for an “ambitious, robust global agreement in Copenhagen, which will credibly deliver substantial emissions abatement.”
A resources heavy industry, a consumption mentality and a small country away from most of the world is Australia. But if we can develop a low-carbon intensive production capability it would provide new growth to the economy and create a better future for Australia. Irrespective of the real effects and needs of climate change this would be a good policy.