The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme announced today comes down on the side of caution by recognising the importance of existing industries, with the ACTU calling for the Government to keep open the possibility of higher greenhouse reduction target by 2020.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow welcomed the Government’s commitment to making a start on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and to position Australia for a share of the jobs being created in low-carbon and green industries, and said there should be no delay in the commencement of the scheme in 2010.
Ms Burrow urged the Government to keep an open mind on meeting a higher carbon-reduction target as part of a comprehensive international agreement.
Ms Burrow also called for business to “get with the program”, and end the divisiveness of calling for more compensation and assistance.
“Australia’s efforts must be co-operative and not driven by the interests of one sector alone,” she said.
“While we support existing industries, we also must also back new industries and jobs.
“Research by the ACTU shows 500,000 new jobs could be created in Australia’s emerging green industries.
“The Government should immediately establish a high level advisory and consultative committee including business, union, environmental and welfare representatives to report directly to the Prime Minister on the implementation of the trading scheme.”
Ms Burrow said it was welcome that the billions of dollars earned by the Government from the trading scheme must be used to support vulnerable low-income families, compensate emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries, and to drive an aggressive industry policy to ensure that existing industries are globally competitive in a low-carbon future.
“It is essential that Australia gains a share of the potentially massive market for green jobs,” she said.
Unions welcome the fast-tracking of a $500 million renewable energy investment program, with Ms Burrow calling for more immediate investment in retrofitting houses and commercial buildings with energy and water saving systems as part of an urgent “Green New Deal” economic stimulus package.
The Government must keep open the option of a more ambitious target by 2020 and should lead robust international negotiations. We need to keep global warming at less than two degrees to save national icons like the Murray-Darling Basin and the tens of thousands of jobs they support.
Ms Burrow said the issuing of free permits and other compensation measures by the Government to exposed industries during the transition to the trading scheme must include mutual obligation by businesses to reform their practises to become more energy efficient.
“The big emitters have had their voice heard, now they must recognise their obligations in moving to a low-carbon economy. We are already behind Europe and other parts of the developed world in driving green industries, and will lose more market share and job creation potential if businesses do not seize this opportunity.
“We also cannot sit by and allow more damage to be done to our planet.”