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
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