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Treasury modelling begs the question: Why not go harder, faster?

Even with its pessimistic assumptions on energy efficiency and renewable energy, Treasury modelling released today backs the Greens position that cutting emissions hard and fast makes economic and environmental sense, Australian Greens climate change spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, said today.

The modelling backs up existing evidence that acting to cut emissions sooner rather than later is economically advantageous. It also shows that greater emissions cuts cost barely more than cuts which will not prevent catastrophic climate change. However, all four of the scenarios which Treasury modelled give us an unacceptably high chance of triggering dangerous climate change.

Senator Milne said, "If the kind of cuts which will give us a small chance of avoiding climate catastrophe cost barely more than the cuts which give us no chance, why did Treasury not model safe climate scenarios?

"The modelling shows that the Government has no excuse whatsoever for refusing to take on at least 25% cuts by 2020. Treasury should now be asked to model the 40% cuts we know are necessary in order to pass on a safe climate to our children. If, as can be expected, the cost is still vanishingly small, there can be no excuse for not taking on that science-based target.

"It is important to remember the old principle of modelling - ‘garbage in, garbage out'. The Treasury modelling contains some bizarre assumptions, including that there will be no behavioural change for energy efficiency and far less renewable energy than we know is possible.

"Even with these pessimistic assumptions, the costs are very low. If they had included the amount of energy efficiency we know is possible, the costs would be that much lower.

"Internationally, there is now a strong push for a Green New Deal to lift the world out of the economic meltdown by investing in the jobs and manufacturing that will help us avoid a complete climate meltdown.

"The stronger the target we aim for, the more investment we will need to achieve it, and the more innovative, jobs-rich, economic activity will be stimulated.

"That is why the Greens will be moving in the Senate to negotiate harder and faster emissions reduction outcomes from the emissions trading scheme.

"We will help the Government ‘green up' the scheme to achieve 40% emissions reductions below 1990 levels by 2020, with compensation mechanisms that will drive energy efficiency - saving emissions and money - instead of cash payments that will undermine the scheme.

"The key question we have to ask ourselves is: will we be able to look our grandchildren in the eye and tell them we did all we could when we could? Or will we have to tell them we spent their inheritance because we didn't have the foresight to do the right thing?"

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