Greens leader Christine Milne has leapt to centre stage in climate negotiations by offering to pass legislation for a modified direct action program in return for keeping the Renewable Energy Target unchanged and saying that while repeal of the carbon tax was a “climate crime” the Greens too had made mistakes.
Speaking at the National Press Club speech today (Thursday) Senator Milne’s offer, which aims to save the carbon farming initiative that relies on Direct Action, takes the agenda out of the hands of the Palmer United Party and the Labor Party.
Senator Milne’s change of heart could allow the government to pass the $2.55 billion direct action plan through the Senate without the support of the Palmer United Party or Labor.
Senator Milne said the “only way for green jobs created by the former government’s Carbon Farming Initiative to be saved… was to ‘negotiate on putting some spine or rigour into direct action’”. She said direct action was “the government’s pathetic ill- defined excuse for climate action.”
Under the Carbon Farming Initiative Labor and the Greens created jobs for farmers, Aboriginal communities and landfill operators with more than 150 projects around Australia. The Abbott Government and Clive Palmer destroyed those jobs and investment by axing the carbon price.
The only way those jobs and ongoing climate emissions reductions can be rescued is for the Government to negotiate on putting some spine or rigour into direct action.
Consistent with our view that all tools in the toolbox must be used to genuinely reduce emissions, the Greens are prepared to negotiate with the Government to knock direct action into shape, but only if it is not separated from the RET.
“Destroying the RET and pretending direct action alone can work to bring down emissions will not cut it. Prime Minister Abbott must abandon his attack on the RET if he wants the Australian Greens to consider Direct Action. Over to you PM.”
Senator Milne declared the Abbott government’s decision to repeal the carbon tax as a “climate crime” but also acknowledged mistakes had been made by the Green movement in Australia.
That we have got to this situation is a mistake that all of us in the climate and environment movement made. We focused all of our campaigning energies and all of the community’s engagement on having the price on pollution rather than on selling the vision for the future of the country that the suite of measures, including the price were delivering: R&D, new technologies, jobs, investment, clean energy, clean air, and an exciting future.
It enabled the debate to be about a so called “tax” rather than the win-win of addressing climate change and a prosperous Australia post the boom.
But now, as our emissions continue to rise and the need to act grows more urgent by the minute, we must lead a multi-pronged response which not only brings down emissions but stops them being emitted in the first place. I mean coal.
Reputex today said research it had undertaken indicated investment in the Carbon Farming Initiative may fall by more than $1.4 billion “should Australia’s climate policy vacuum continue beyond the current spring session of parliament”.
A media statement said, with the return of parliament next Monday, pressure was increasing for the Coalition and the Senate crossbench to come to an agreement on the government’s proposed Emissions Reduction Fund, which is currently before the Senate.
Failure to pass the CFI Amendment Bill (containing the ERF) before the end of the parliamentary year on 4 December, would see investment in the CFI wiped out, “with growth from new landfill gas, waste and forestry projects expected to be eroded following the end of the Carbon Price Mechanism on 2 February, 2015,” RepuTex said.
The statement said:
If the CFI Amendment Bill is not passed by the Senate, abatement from the Carbon Farming Initiative is likely to slow to less than three million credits per year; down from a forecast high of approximately 17 million credits in FY18 should an amended version of the scheme be implemented.
Through to FY18, this slowdown would equate to a loss of almost $1.4 billion in potential investment in the CFI.
According to RepuTex associate director Bret Harper, such an outcome would cripple the CFI, whereby carbon farmers would be left with no buyers for their emissions reductions.
This is because the government would need to step in to buy the farming credits through direct action, replacing high emitting companies with a liability to offset under the Carbon Price Mechanism.
“If the ERF is not implemented prior to December, confidence in the carbon farming sector would be wiped out, with new project development eroded without a clear end buyer for those credits” Mr Harper said.
“As currently designed, the ERF is likely to increase supply of credits under the CFI by nearly 90 per cent, however, with further amendments we may see a larger surge in emissions reduction credits, with potential for the market to grow to around 54 million credits over the next four years – an increase of more than three times current forecasts.”
Mr Harper said this may see the expanded CFI market valued at up to $1.6 billion over the next four years, increasing from just $207 million in FY15.