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Government greenhouse scheme distorts market, lacks integrated policy framework, abuses goodwill of states: Senator

Posted by gmarkets on 9 October, 2007

The Australian Greenhouse Office in 1998-99 went to great lengths to develop a framework for emissions trading, and it was shelved, noted Tasmania’s Greens Senator Christine Milne in the Commonwealth Senate on 20 September 2007.

Howard Govt inaction: Speaking to the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Bill 2007, Milne said: “Here we are all these years later, at the end of the last sitting day of this government, and legislation is brought into the chamber to set up arrangements to actually measure greenhouse gases. I think that gives some indication of where we have been under the Howard government in relation to climate change.”

Sink or investment? “As if it is not bad enough,” said Milne, “that we have the MIS schemes out there distorting the market, we will now have the cashed-up energy sector investing in the establishment of trees without any hydrological analysis, without any requirement that those plantations be in any way biodiverse and without any requirement that they stay in the ground for any length of time. If you have a situation where you call a treeplanting a sink and then you can log it at any time, then it makes absolutely no sense and makes zero contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Policy lacking: What was needed was a comprehensive, integrated framework of policy which looked at emissions trading, land use, land use change and forestry and how that would intersect with food security and with ecological integrity and ecosystem maintenance in terms of water, said Milne. Policy should also look at the financial mechanisms that would drive the rollout of renewables and there was need for regulation that would set in place national energy efficiency targets, energy efficiency standards for appliances, for buildings and so on, Milne said.

Goodwill of states squandered: The government had made a huge mistake by squandering the goodwill of the states, Milne said. The states had gone ahead and developed a lot of work on emissions measurement and were going to go ahead with a national emissions trading system in the absence of the Commonwealth doing so. “They agreed at a COAG meeting to establish a mandatory national greenhouse gas emissions and energy reporting system. They were prepared to give up some of their powers on the understanding that the Commonwealth would consult with them adequately and that there would be an agreed system. The minute the Commonwealth got that, the Prime Minister announced his emissions trading task force and, without any further ado or consultation with the states, the Commonwealth just drew up its legislation and made a total mess of it,” said Milne.

Reference: Christine Milne, Senator for Tasmania, Australian Greens Party, Senate Hansard, Commonwealth of Australia, 20 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 7/10/2007

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