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December 16th 2008
Carbon targets: "Death for the reef"

Following Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's announcement yesterday that Australia's carbon emission reduction targets would be 5% to 15% by 2020, the North Queensland Conservation Council described the local impact as, "death for the reef".

The announcement was made in expectation that the world will not agree to decisive action on climate change in the foreseeable future and subsequently emission cuts will be limited to a minimum of 5%.

Businesses will receive large amounts of free permits with power and coal producers to receive $4 billion.

For Magnetic Island, Australia's oldest Great Barrier Reef tourist resort destination, the long term impact looks ominous.

In his speech the Prime Minister argued against higher targets claiming that, "Carbon leakage," could occur - whereby, "an industry could leak from Australia and reappear elsewhere with a higher carbon footprint".

James McLellan, Co-ordinator of the North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC), told Magnetic Times, "If we can't do better than better than 5% then what hope do we have? Green groups have been saying a 5% target is death for the reef."

"The first chunks of climate change are the easiest. We are not even picking the low-hanging fruit."

Carbon reductions from 25 to 40 per cent on 1990 levels are required by 2020, in conjunction with international commitments holding major polluting nations to similar cutbacks, will be needed to ward off the worst effects of climate change, according to the Government's Garnaut climate change review.

The Garnaut review claimed that allowing greenhouse gase concentrations to rise to 550 parts per million - what the Government's cuts will mean if other nations do likewise - would be disastrous for Australia.

James McClellan is particularly scathing of the largest emitters. "The key has been the protection of trade for high emission industries. When you look at the Boyne smelter at Gladstone it's consuming the power supply of every home in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Chalco proposes about the same electricity as 105 000 homes. Townsville has approximately 59 000 homes," he said.

The Prime Minister said, "The most emissions-intensive activities like aluminium smelting and integrated iron and steel production will receive free permits at a rate of 90 per cent.

And while Magnetic Island begins to set an example for what could be achieved through a solar future, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Mark Diesendorf, Deputy Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of NSW, says, "There's no doubt the white paper is actually undermining the potential for green-collar jobs in Australia,"

"We've put up a message that says to investors 'stay away'.

"We have a huge raft of proposals for large wind farms, for baseload solar plants, we have huge potential for jobs in the energy efficiency sector, but that potential needs the right policy settings from government so businesses can start to make investments." (click here)

Story: George Hirst

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Carbon targets:
December 16th 2008
Readers who are interested in understanding what is really happening on the Great Barrier Reef as rising CO2 levels bring about slight increases in sea water temperature and acidity - there is an excellent, layman-friendly book just out recently called A Reef in Time - the Great Barrier Reef from beginning to end. Written by J.N. (Charlie) Veron, a world renowned coral scientist from right here in Townsville, this passionate account will stand your hair on end. And not before time. We have seen the coral bleaching right before our very eyes so we can't be in denial.
Barbara J Gibbs
December 16th 2008
Disappointed to say the very least! It is so hard to fathom a government that started so well, has suddenly discintegrated into a clone of Johnnie! I think Kev needs to be reminded why he was elected in the first place, and stop pandering to big least existing ones, and look to the future and opportunities we have here in this country of creating and exporting alternatives to fossil fuel energies, and most importantly, the fact that his own children need a liveable Earth to survive. How much more devastating does it have to be before politicians start acting positively???
Jenny Stirling
December 17th 2008
With this policy failure we have reached a point of departure: The government can no longer pull the wool over the eyes of the Australian public that they are the means to achieve adequate climate adaptation responses.Kyoto was symbolic - the real acid test was always going to be the carbon emission targets. I don't know who is worse- the Libs with their mantra of the market knows best or the ALP with trying to be all things to all people. In the meantime, the Reef is dying and we are wringing our hands. Time to take bold and imaginative steps in getting the message to our PM. I hear that Penny Wong, Minister for climate change is less than convincing on the radio about the 5%. Perhaps she should resign.
Peter F. Hughes
December 18th 2008
Well Jenny, Penny (no pun intended) is indeed the Minister in the Government elected by the people. Just like Peter Garrett, she is making a contribution to changing the climate of this planet.
Realistic targets, medium term policy is the sensible way for the Labor Government to achieve its goals. Lets not forget what Howard did about climate change.
Join the Labor Party Jenny Stirling and come in from the wilderness. Most of us have quit the Australian Conservation Foundation and the NQCC.
Real action takes place in Canberra Jenny.
It is where the change is generated from.
And where the people's voice is heard.
Merry Christmas
Peter F. Hughes
The Great Ocean Road
Lorne, Victoria
James Mc Lellan
December 19th 2008
What they generate in Canberra is holes in the sand where they bury their heads. Change comes from the ground up not the top down. In the face of denial, procrastination and outright opposition from Washington, Arnold Schwarzenegger as the governor of California has pushed reform and has made real progress. Many US states are now following his lead, soon the US President will look very foolish if he doesn

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