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.”
“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.”