Unions strongly welcome the Rudd Government’s plan for a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

“The alarm bells have been ringing for years, and we finally now have a government prepared to listen and to act to safeguard future generations,” says ACTU President Sharan Burrow.

The scheme is urgent and necessary to deal with a global crisis that will be disastrous for Australia if we do not take action on climate change.

Ms Burrow says the proposed scheme announced today by Climate Change and Water Minister Penny Wong will provide greater certainty for business and working families and sets out a sensible framework to manage Australia’s response to climate change.

She says all Australians should now support the government’s proposed introduction of emissions targets and a carbon trading scheme in 2010.

The ACTU welcomes the government’s proposed measures to ensure low and middle income earners will be supported by the tax system to maintain their living standards in the face of rising energy costs.

Unions believe that if carefully managed, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme should avoid major job losses and provide a pathway for Australian industry to take up opportunities in the new low-carbon global economy.

While discounts and partial exemptions for some carbon-intensive, trade-exposed industries in the scheme’s first years will protect jobs, we support and will want to strengthen the benchmarks required to ensure these companies change their work and production practices.

‘’This green paper gives greater certainty for business and households – but we must all do our bit,” Ms Burrow says.

“Working Australians want to work with business to find solutions to climate change.

 “But we will also be looking very closely to ensure that in any compensation to business there is also an obligation to change their work practices to adjust to a low carbon economy, or we risk seeing jobs in many industries going off shore.”