Thursday, February 4, 2010

Two year Interim Carbon Tax as a compromise to break Senate Deadlock?

Two weeks ago the Greens took up one of Professor Ross Garnaut's suggestions of an interim carbon tax until the nation finalises its carbon emissions reduction strategy. Given the current political deadlock in the Senate, the proposal has received the support of Garnault saying it is "'another politically practical way forward".

The proposal is for an interim two year carbon tax of $23 per tonne carbon tax, and $5 billion for households assistance to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The scheme could begin as soon as July 2010 and would apply only to the 1000 worst polluters in Australia.

"The Greens stand ready, willing and able to work with Mr Rudd and Minister Wong to make the emissions trading scheme workable, but we cannot and will not support a scheme which, as it stands, is nothing more than multi-billion dollar smoke and mirrors." said Greens Climate Change Spokesperson Senator Christine Milne.

The Government's legislation is due to be reintroduced for a third time this month and faces defeat from the Coalition benches for going "too far", and from the Greens for being "too compromised" by too many concessions and free permits to the polluters.

Negotiations between Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and the Greens are continuing. To achieve passage of legislation through the Senate the Government requires another 7 votes: the Greens have 5, then there is Independent Senator Xenophon (who may be sympathetic), and Family First Senator Steve Fielding (strongly tending towards climate change skeptism), or Senators from the Coalition to cross the floor.

"Our interim proposal is designed to be strengthened as time passes, while the CPRS is impossible to strengthen without tens of billions more dollars flowing to polluters."

"The CPRS will not and must not pass in its current form, but this interim proposal has a real chance. Let's seize it and get Australia moving towards the zero carbon future." concluded Christine Milne.

The Australian Conservation Foundation also welcomed the proposal. "Climate change needs big, innovative solutions rather than a piecemeal approach. The bottom line for climate policy is the ability to achieve deep cuts in emissions, and an effective carbon price passes that test." said Tony Mohr, ACF Climate Change Program Manager.

"Businesses want a green light to invest in clean technology, and Australians want a green light on emissions cuts. Both need a price on greenhouse pollution." Mr Mohr said.


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.