The Australian Greens today wrote to the Prime Minister and Climate Change Minister making a good faith offer to break the political impasse and support the CPRS legislation if satisfactory amendments are made to make it environmentally effective.
The letter sets a bottom line for Australia to make an unconditional emissions cut of 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, with a commitment to move to 40% conditional on the success of the Copenhagen conference. It also sets out a range of proposed scheme design changes.
"Protecting the climate is a job for everyone, and putting a price on toxic carbon is one useful part of the effort to deliver those jobs as Australia moves rapidly towards carbon neutrality," said Australian Greens Leader, Senator Bob Brown.
"We want to see polluters paying for their pollution as fast as possible, but the Greens will not support a law that will lock out the option of achieving the 40% emissions cuts we need or give polluters $7.4 billion in free permits in the first two years alone.
"We have to break the impasse that is frustrating climate action in Australia. Our offer today is intended in that positive spirit. Will the Government embrace it or block progress?"
The 25% unconditional cut proposed in the letter is the barest minimum. It is:
• the absolute lowest figure accepted by scientists as environmentally credible;
• the bottom end of the Bali negotiating range for rich countries of 25-40%; and
• achievable at the same cost as 5% cuts, according to the Government's own modelling.
"In our determination to break the impasse and get a positive outcome, the Greens are reaching a long way back to the barest minimum required by science and the global community," Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Milne, said.
"Australia can, must and will meet 40% cuts by 2020. The Greens are confident that once we set off on the path to 25% cuts, delivered mostly at home, we can easily accelerate our effort towards 40% and beyond to carbon neutrality.
"Putting 25% on the table will see Australia taken seriously at the Copenhagen negotiations.
"The Government's 5% target, particularly with a legislated maximum of 15%, would hold back progress, encourage short-sighted investment decisions and make it far more difficult to make the required cuts in the necessary time. It would be worse than useless."
The Greens' letter contains additional requests concerning permit allocation, compensation mechanisms, complementary measures and limits on the use of imported permits.
"These amendments make sound economic, environmental and political sense and the Government should be in a position to accept them. The Government's response will tell us whether or not it wants a positive outcome for the planet," Senator Milne said.
The Greens are today launching a television commercial to air nationally criticising the CPRS as it stands and calling on the community to help fix it.