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Greens call for emissions target of zero-net pollution by 2040

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The Australian Greens have proposed the adoption of an emissions reduction trajectory that would take the nation to net-zero pollution by 2040.

Greens leader Christine Milne announced the ambitious targets in a speech delivered to the Sydney Environment Institute at Sydney University on Monday night, which called for much greater ambition to tackle global warming and help transition the economy.

The post-2020 targets are for a 40-50 per cent emissions reduction on 2000 levels by 2025; a 60-80 per cent reduction by 2030; and net-zero pollution by 2040.

Milne also used the occasion to deliver a scathing assessment of the Coalition’s climate record, describing the Abbott government as a plutocracy, and a “wholly owned subsidiary of the coal industry.”

“The big polluters are polluting for free, and the rest of us are paying the price. It doesn’t have to be that way,” she said in the speech.

“The key question is whether the world’s political systems are capable of addressing the global warming emergency that’s facing us all, on a scale and in a timeframe that gives us a chance of avoiding an unliveable planet.

But Prime Minister Abbott, said Milne, was heading to the Paris climate conference “with a brief case full of notes on how to frustrate action … on the premise that action is not in the national interest.”

Said Milne:

“Whereas it is not in the national interest of people or nations to undermine action, it is in the interests of vested corporates who are making billions in the short term from spewing greenhouse gases to atmosphere. It is in their interests to buy governments with political donations and entrench the revolving door between politics and boardrooms. It is especially so in Australia where there is a disproportionate number of resources based vested interests.

“That is why I have reached the conclusion that we will not win on the climate, here or anywhere, until we take our democracy back from these vested interests that have bought it. We are no longer living in a democracy in Australia, we are a plutocracy: Government by the wealthy for the wealthy.

“It is why I have argued that the Abbott government is the wholly owned subsidiary of the coal industry, having torn down carbon pricing, attacked the RET, abolished the mining tax, maintained fossil fuel subsidies, attempted to abolish ARENA and CEFC, promoted the return of environmental protection powers to the states, promoted Carmichael and Galilee basin coal mines, CSG and most recently approached Bjorn Lomborg to come to UWA with a $4m grant.”

Milne notes that the Abbott government has signalled it will announce its post-2020 emissions target at about the time of the UN meeting in Bonn, Germany in June.

“When this occurs, be ready for all sorts of accounting trickery which Australia is now famous for since John Howard successfully inserted ‘the Australia Clause’ into the Kyoto Protocol,” she said.

In her speech, Milne said getting to zero emissions in the not-too distant future is achievable for Australia, and “not the tale of woe, laden with costs, lost-jobs and heartache as the Abbott government and mining industry would have us all believe.

“Rapidly decarbonising our society is an opportunity to address what we don’t like about the way we live and replace it with what we want, with the jobs to go with it, it is the greatest enabling wake-up call I can imagine.”  

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  • john

    I think in the Australian context that it will be very difficult to move to zero co2 output in the near term.
    As I see it the Australian society has moved to a mind set that says ” what is good for me now” not ” what is good for the future”.
    Or to put it another way Aussies used to be the country where we said ” good day mate how can I help you?” now we say ” What can you do for me ”
    I think the attitude that we used to support the underdog has gone it is now all about me.
    Rather a sad passing of a good outlook of a country that has been respected because of our basic decency now to a shadow of a commercial outlook with no social respectability at all.
    So good luck Christine Milne you are rowing against the current with little hope of success.
    Do I see this changing anytime shortly ?
    No but in about 50 to 80 years the people who made decisions now will be looked at with derision and will be regarded with disgust and go down in history as morons who would not listen to the information they were given; have we learn nothing from history?

    • Ken Dyer

      John, the people who make decisions such as the Emissions Reduction* Fund that supports moribund fossil fuel industries are already being looked at with derision. Why wait for 50 years to elapse? The economic problem is already well known.
      http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/fossil-fuel-subsidies-costing-global-economy-2-trillion-imf-79534

      No wonder the budget and the economy is in deficit……….
      * The term Reduction does not necessarily mean that emissions will in fact reduce.

      • john

        yes Ken I am very aware of the situation where PV is actually very completive however I look at it from my kids perceptive they are not interested but their descendants will look at me and you and have bad feelings about how we dwelt with the situation.

        • Ken Dyer

          John then we must elect politicians that do as they say, not say they will do.

        • Coley

          Get them interested, I know its difficult but it can be done, and they are the ones who are needed to carry on/complete the transition to RE.
          An example, I sometimes turn off the mains for an hour or so and watch the horror as their various devices go tits up and eventually they have nothing to entertain them but Classic FM coming out of my ( previously charged with SP) IPad.
          It’s a bit of a joke on my part, but I point out, this is a very possible future for them if they don’t try to understand the implications of allowing those promoting FFs to be allowed a free ride due to their indifference.

          Those thinking of reporting me for child abuse, I did say sometimes:)

  • Barri Mundee

    I think Milne is more right than wrong in characterising the Abbott government as she has. The evidence is that they are beholden to and overwhelmingly acting in the interests of the incumbent fossil fuel and mining industries and for wealthy and powerful.

    • john

      I think we are not acting at all but just going along with how it is
      Using 1890 technology gee can we please get in to the 2000’s that would perhaps help

  • Marcelo

    Milne is a great Australian.

  • Farmer Dave

    Good for Christine for telling it like it is. I think she and her colleagues should be encouraged to be bold. The dearth of leadership amongst the other political parties is so great that by being bold and speaking out the Greens could reach a wider audience than they are now. Of course Murdoch’s hacks will attack the Greens, but I think Murdoch’s influence is waning. The urgency for action on climate is too great for us to pussy-foot around. Please keep up the blunt talk, Christine.

  • onesecond

    She is 100% right. Besides saving the planet, which is kind of important, the transition to clean energy is also good for the economy and a job motor, which recent studies have confirmed anew for Germany. Vote Green!

    http://www.klimaretter.info/wirtschaft/hintergrund/18638-das-gruene-wirtschaftswunder

  • Joachim

    I am proud to be supporting the Greens, the only political party to show real Leadership when it comes to the Environment.