Hsi commends Labor's 'climate change action plan'
27th April, 2016
Humane Society International (HSI) welcomed the release of Labor’s ‘Climate Change Action Plan’ by Shadow Minister for the Environment, Mark Butler in Queensland, today. HSI’s climate change and biodiversity advisor Alistair Graham commended three particular aspects of the Plan:
1. A commitment to use Commonwealth legislative powers by introducing a climate ‘trigger’ under its environment legislation (the EPBC Act), to control and reduce land clearing, especially in Queensland and New South Wales, if state governments couldn’t or wouldn’t do so themselves. This is the big issue for us – Australia can do great good in both reducing carbon pollution in Australia and conserving our unique biodiversity;
2. A commitment to reintroduce an emissions trading system (ETS) with sectoral caps on emissions, to be reduced over time, with no fixed prices - this is the key policy framework for efficient and effective emissions reduction for an economy and society like ours. Asking responsible polluters to pay is the right thing to do, asking hapless taxpayers to pay is the wrong thing to do;
3. A commitment to allow trade-exposed industries to buy any amount of offset credits from overseas if they can’t keep within their caps. If proper care is taken to ensure only ‘high quality’ credits can be bought, international offsetting can serve not only to allow lower caps to be set, because overseas credits are cheaper, but also to conserve biodiversity by reducing degradation of forests and rewetting drained peatlands, especially in our immediate neighbours of Indonesia and PNG.
“We remain deeply concerned that, last year, Labor joined the then Abbott Government in supporting the burning of wood from native forests as a so-called renewable energy source,” Mr Graham said. “This is a horribly perverse policy in that burning wood is more emissive than burning coal as well as being incredibly environmentally harmful if the wood comes from native forests – we need to move away from burning all forms of carbon not just from burning fossil fuels – it’s all the same to the atmosphere. We’re looking for a commitment from Mr Butler that this policy anomaly will be removed at the first opportunity.
“Similarly, we are concerned that the purchase of international carbon offset credits could be equally perverse – worse than just a waste of time, money and effort. We’re looking for an assurance that only ‘high quality’ international credits will be eligible for purchase in Australia and that ‘high quality’ means priority being given to protecting remaining intact native forests and re-wettting drained wetlands rather than unhelpfully funding reforestation even as forest degradation continues,” Mr Graham concluded.