In what Greens leader senator Bob Brown has dubbed as being “breakthrough politics”, the Greens have put forward a five point plan to Prime Minister Julia Gillard that could end the deadlock on an emissions trading scheme before the next election.
Yesterday Senator Brown wrote a letter to Prime Minister Gillard that restated “the Greens’ commitment to… find a way forward to climate change action before an election.” The letter focused on the Greens’ willingness to adopt a “Garnaut-style carbon price which could open the way later, to emissions trading.”
The proposed program outlined in the letter by Senator Brown is not a direct alternative to the emissions trading scheme supported by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The Greens’ proposal is an interim plan to establish a carbon price prior to setting up an emissions trading scheme at a later date.
In his letter, Brown listed five “key elements” which he said are to “serve as the basis for open and constructive negotiation”. The most specific point made was that the scheme should include a price of $23 per tonne on carbon which should be put in place by July 1 2011, with an increase of 4% + CPI per annum. Brown also said that the scheme should remain in action until a new global treaty establishes “longer-term emission targets”.
The other key points outlined by the senator were that “no targets would be included in the initial legislation”, that “full trading would commence once targets are legislated” and “international permits would only be allowed once trading commences.”
Brown also suggested that the construction of new ‘dirty’ coal power stations should, in line with a 2007 Labor election promise, be prevented; that an national energy efficiency target should be introduced and that “native forest; and woodland clearance – which accounts for 15-20% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions” should be ended.
In the letter, Brown told Gillard that through negotiation with the Greens a price on carbon could be set within three months – potentially prior to the next election.
In a Greens media release last Saturday, Brown criticised “Labor's right-wing ascendency”. This was after a recent decline in the Greens’ opinion poll standing, which occurred after Gillard took over from Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. Brown argued that "the Green vote "parked" with… Julia Gillard, won't stay there long" as Labor’s positions on environmental, humanitarian and business will once again become apparent to voters.
Brown did however mention that he “[looks] forward to talking to Prime Minister Gillard about a carbon price and real action to tackle climate change”.
In a media release yesterday which announced the letter to the Prime Minister, Brown also acknowledged that “the government is set to announce new solar and wind projects”. Labor’s position on climate change was asserted in Gillard’s first speech as Prime Minister, in which she announced that she “[believes] human beings contribute to climate change”. Gillard also commented that she finds it “disappointing” that Australia has no price on carbon.
How does emissions trading work? Click here for a video explaining the process!