WWF has welcomed the decision by Labor and the Greens to put a fixed price on pollution from July 1 2012, transitioning to a cap and trade scheme, but the starting price will be critical to make the scheme effective.
“The decision to introduce a price on pollution will be welcomed by many Australians who want to see us unlock our clean energy potential and protect our environment,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.
“The starting price will be the next critical decision. It needs to be high enough to encourage the building of a clean energy industry, putting Australia on the pathway to cut its pollution by at least 25% by 2020.
“If the price is too low, there is no incentive to invest in big, long-term clean energy like solar thermal, geothermal and wave,” said Mr O’Gorman.
“We have an opportunity now to create a clean energy future that will protect and create new jobs, showcase our ingenuity and protect icons like the Great Barrier Reef.”
Shifting to a cap and trade scheme sooner will be cheaper for the economy and better for the environment. It gives everyone certainty that we will make the pollution cuts we need.
In finalising the scheme, WWF calls on all parties involved to also:
- Provide assistance for households that can least afford increased costs, including helping them become more energy efficient;
- Ensure that at least 20% of the revenue raised from the scheme is re-invested in clean energy;
- Provide flexibility to achieve deeper cuts in response to new science and international agreements;
- Only provide assistance to energy intensive trade exposed business where there is a demonstrated need, noting that there is no longer a global financial crisis.
Australia is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change and the subsequent impacts on the economy.
As temperatures continue to increase, we can expect more of the kind of extreme weather events we have seen recently, which will have a significant cost to our economy, lives and the environment.
“Australia is already lagging behind many other countries. If we act, other countries are likely to do more, which is in our best interests,” said Mr O’Gorman.
Guest Post from WWF Australia
Charlie Stevens, WWF Media Officer