Media coverage of Rudd’s announced changes in the ETS scheme has focused on the one-year delay in the starting date. But the big news is that the government will now offer emissions reduction target to up to 25 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020, if an international agreement is made later this year in Denmark to keep global emissions under 450 parts per million.
This is significant good news. It’s obviously necessary to look at the fine print, but a 25 per cent reduction would be consistent with a global contract and converge agreement which could achieve climate stabilization. In the context of such a commitment, a delay in the start date for the scheme (inevitable in any case given the situation in the Senate) is a small price to pay, as is the temporary cap on permit prices.
Also, the government seems to have responded to criticisms about the ineffectiveness of voluntary action
Mr Rudd has also announced that households and businesses will be able to contribute to cutting Australia’s emissions through an Australian Carbon Trust comprising of an energy efficiency trust and an energy efficiency savings pledge fund.
Households would be able to calculate their energy use and then make donations to fund which would then buy and cancel carbon permits.
The scheme may not be perfect, but, on the face of it, the changes are sufficient for me to conclude that the Greens ought to be backing it, and seeking some further improvements, rather than holding out in the name of purity.