The Nature Conservation Council urges the Federal Government to show real leadership and implement a stronger, more immediate mitigation approach than that recommended in the Garnaut Climate Change Review.
“We need urgent action on avoiding dangerous climate change. We cannot wait until the anticipated effect of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme comes into play after 2010 – Australia’s emissions need to start falling immediately,” Don White, chairman of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said today.
“Professor Garnaut has done a great job of highlighting the costs to Australia of unmitigated climate change, but in the face of these dire projections, we must adopt a rigorous approach to cutting our emissions, based on the most recent science, not on political whims.
“We cannot afford to pander to vested interests by setting weak targets that sell out our national icons such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu.
“The latest science is telling us that developed countries must cut their emissions by more than 40% by 2020, and the Nature Conservation Council is recommending that Australia aims to halve our emissions by 2020 and be nationally carbon neutral by 2040.
“As one of the highest per capita polluters in the OECD, Australia should lead by example and set a strong target while working with the international community to urgently secure an agreement for stabilisation of a safe climate at no more than 0.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures – a target that requires we aim even lower than the 450ppm suggested by Garnaut.
“The Garnaut Climate Change Review final report states there is negligible cost to the Australian economy of stabilising atmospheric CO2 concentrations at 450ppm rather than 550ppm. In fact, the Nature Conservation Council believes Australia should take full advantage of the economic opportunities created in moving from a coal-based economy to one based on renewable energy sources and greater energy efficiency.
“We welcome the review’s recommendation of no ‘free permits’ under an Australian emissions trading scheme but reject the option of compensating polluting coal-based electricity generators. Assistance in the form of infrastructure, education, training and investment in coal regions would be a more environmentally effective and equitable form of easing the implementation of an emissions trading scheme,” Prof White said.