Kevin Rudd made no commitment to greenhouse gas targets at the Bali Conference.
Instead he said he’d wait until his chosen economist, Prof. Ross Garnaut, produced a report in umpteen months’ time. He needed to see what impact saving the world might have on our business and the economy.
In late February, we were pleasantly surprised by Prof. Garnaut’s first report on climate impacts and the economy. It suggested that the government takes it a bit more seriously and increases their targets for CO2 cutbacks to 90% by 2050. He has said this would not cause any major hardships.
However, Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change, is downplaying his recommendation. She’ll also ask Treasury for economic advice and intends to stick to their original election target of 60% by 2050. (Even Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are promising 80% cuts by 2050).
The government plans to bring in an emissions trading scheme by 2010, but Garnaut suggested setting carbon reduction targets this year.
What they really need are major and immediate year-by-year targets. In political timelines, 12 years is as good as never.
Bob Brown said the Rudd Government was back-peddling and ‘coal captured’. He said there are huge vested interests at play here – the coal industry, the aluminium industry, the logging industry – and it’s up to Rudd to put the country ahead of vested interests. He said a good first step would be slashing the $9 billion in subsidies the fossil fuel industries receive annually, instead of slashing public service jobs.
The final Garnaut report is still six months away and Senator Christine Milne said that the government should be making plans now for this report to be part of a climate-focused budget in May.