• Thursday, November 24, 2011: Greens’ Cassy O’Connor tables the Climate Change Amendment bill which strengthens a 2050 Target, and Introduces Interim Targets

What the MR said: The Tasmanian Greens today tabled their Private Members Bill, Climate Change (State Action) Interim Targets Amendment Bill 2011, which seeks to strengthen the State’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2050, as well as introduce an interim target for the year 2020.

Greens Member for Denison, Cassy O’Connor MP, said that in order for the State to do its part to deliver a safe climate for future generations the State must set a target for Tasmania to be carbon neutral by 2050, and set an interim greenhouse gas emission reduction target of at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.

“On behalf of the Greens, I am proud to table this Private Members Bill to introduce a stronger 2050 target as well as an interim of at least 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction below 1990 levels by the year 2020,” Ms O’Connor said.

“These targets are what the climate science demands, and what our planet requires. Tasmania has an opportunity to play a meaningful part in delivering a safe and sustainable future for this beautiful island.”

“It is crucial that Tasmania be carbon-neutral no later than 2050 in order to help limit the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 350ppm or below, and an interim target is an important sign post on the road to achieve this target.”

“The Greens believe that without an interim target, and without a strong commitment to reduce emissions from now on, we would be effectively leaving the mortgage for our grandchildren to pay off.”

“If we invest in emission reduction opportunities now and capitalise on our renewable energy advantages Tasmania can reap the benefits by taking early action in a global community that is being forced to transition to a low carbon economy whether it wants to or not.”

“Tasmania, with our renewable energy and huge potential forest-carbon resources has a great opportunity to achieve these targets, and should commit to working with community, business and industry – sector by sector to develop tailored transition plans that have good outcomes for jobs, community and the planet.”

“Tasmania’s emissions are currently at about 25% below 1990 levels, and with a good, strategic plan we can definitely achieve a 40% reduction by 2020.”

“The current Climate Change (State Action) Act 2008 states that the Tasmania’s 2050 target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the 31st of December 2050 to at least 60% below 1990 levels.”

“We are aiming for zero emissions by 2050. It’s achievable and it’s the right things to do,” Ms O’Connor said.

Download: Copy of the Climate Change (State Action) Interim Targets Amendment Bill 2011, Tabled by Cassy O’Connor MP:

• How Matthew Groom, Shadow Minister for Climate Change responded:

O’Connor rolled by Cabinet on climate change: Today we witnessed the embarrassing spectacle of the Minister for Climate Change being forced to bring in a Private Members’ Bill to try and implement policy she couldn’t get through the Cabinet. It’s a bit rich for the Minister to call on the Liberals to support her when not even her own Cabinet is willing to put up with this massive increase in carbon reduction targets.

• The Liberals different stance three years ago: Sue Napier - Hansard debate on Climate Change (State Action) Bill 2008 - 19 August, 2008

I note that the Tasmanian Together Progress Board has set a reduction target of 25 per cent by 2020.  The Greens have indicated that they believe that not only should we have in legislation a target for 2050, which we do, but that we should also have interim targets. 

I agree that we should have interim targets.  I would hope that we do not just have a 2020 target; I would hope that we have a series of targets and I would see the Tasmanian Climate Action Council as being able to help generate realistic and reasonable targets, given that a great deal of this will be driven by the emissions trading scheme. 

Having interim targets makes a lot of sense.  Should we put this into this legislation?  I do not have a great deal of difficulty with that suggestion but I would suggest that it is too soon to be identifying exactly what that target is. 

Then again, targets in themselves make us aspire to and be conscious of whether we are progressing towards that target.  I am indicating that on balance that would probably be an improvement.  It was certainly reflected in Dr Kate Crowley’s report - A Framework for Action.  The six key principles that it would appear are now guiding the Government’s action on trying to reduce emissions seem reasonably sensible and are reasonably reflected within this climate change bill.  One is about strong leadership, and that includes backyard stuff as much as it includes the bigger issues.  The second one is about shared responsibility, the principle that every individual is responsible for solutions.  I have already made comment about that.  Thirdly is the principle of best practice and beyond.  That is about identifying international best practice and striving to move beyond it so that we are always aspiring onwards. 

I think this is one of the really important issues that Australia is going to have to tackle to ensure that industry in Australia is able to compete internationally but at the same time work progressively to reduce their emissions and carbon footprints.