18 May 2011 – [Updated 19 May 2011] The UK yesterday announced that it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2025 based on 1990 levels, with the news seized upon by Australian Climate Change Minister Greg Combet as evidence that the world is moving on climate change and that Australia needs to do the same

A media statement from UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne  released on 17 May said the move was  in line with advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change.

“It sets a fourth carbon budget of 1950 MtCO2e for the period that will span from 2023 to 2027, putting the UK on course to cut emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050,” Mr Huhne said.

“The carbon budget will place the British economy at the leading edge of a new global industrial transformation, and ensure low carbon energy security and decarbonisation is achieved at least cost to the consumer.

“The package announced today also includes measures to minimise costs of the low-carbon transition to industries exposed to international competition.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said: “When the coalition came together last year, we said we wanted this to be the greenest government ever. This is the right approach for Britain if we are to combat climate change, secure our energy supplies for the long-term and seize the economic opportunities that green industries hold.

“In the past 12 months, we have pursued an ambitious green agenda and today, we are announcing the next, historic step. By making this commitment, we will position the UK a leading player in the global low-carbon economy, creating significant new industries and jobs.

“The transition to a low-carbon economy is necessary, real, and global. By stepping up, showing leadership and competing with the world, the UK can prove that there need not be a tension between green and growth.”

Mr Combet said the Australian Government welcomed the move. “The UK proposal is further evidence that countries around the world take climate change seriously, and are committed to reducing their carbon pollution,” he said.
Turnbull throws doubt on Coalition climate proposals

Former Liberal Party Leader Malcolm Turnbull last night questioned the Coalition’s approach to climate change, saying its direct action policy is costly but easy to stop in the absence of global action, the ABC website said today. And Greens Deputy Leader Christine Milne said Mr Turnbull was positioning himself for a future when Mr Abbott’s negative attitude was redundant.

Mr Turnbull told ABC’s Lateline last night that the advantage of the Opposition’s direct action approach to climate change was that it was easy to stop if you do not believe in preventing climate change.

“If you believe there is not going to be any global action and that the rest of the world will just say, ‘It’s all too hard and we’ll just let the planet get hotter and hotter,’ and, heaven help our future generations if you take that rather grim, fatalistic view of the future and you want to abandon all activity, a scheme like that is easier to stop,” he said on Lateline.

“A direct action policy, where the government or industry was able to freely pollute, if you like, and the government was just spending more and more taxpayers’ money to offset it, that would become a very expensive charge on the budget.”
Finance Minister Penny Wong said: “I think what we saw last night is Malcolm really telling the truth about what the Liberal policy is – that it’s very expensive and that it’s a con,” the report said.

The Australian Greens Deputy Leader Senator Christine Milne today suggested that Mr Turnbull’s statements positioned him for the future, “when Australia has put a price on pollution and Mr Abbott’s negative position is no longer tenable.”

She said: “Within the space of a few hours, Tony Abbott’s sham of a climate policy has been exposed by both Malcolm Turnbull and [UK] Prime Minister Cameron.

“While Mr Cameron committed the UK to cutting its carbon pollution in half by 2025, Mr Turnbull explained to ABC’s Lateline that Tony Abbott’s policy would make taxpayers pay rather than polluters and was designed for climate denialists.

“Tony Abbott would do well to reflect on the efforts of conservatives both in Britain and in his own party instead of looking to the American extreme right for guidance.

“Tony Abbott would slug taxpayers $720 a year to hand over to polluters and would give no compensation to householders at all.

“The Greens and the government, on the other hand, are working on the best possible design for making polluters pay and using revenue to support householders and invest in making clean, renewable energy cheaper.

“This follows on from the Deloitte report yesterday showing that uncertainty is driving increases in power bills. Mr Abbott’s policy increases uncertainty, making him responsible for greater power price rises.

“Malcolm Turnbull clearly recognises the reality that a price on pollution is going to happen in Australia, just as it has already happened elsewhere around the world, creating jobs and helping new industries develop.”