Long live climate action: groups call for end to polluting politics

17 July 2014

A coalition of civil society groups has urged Parliament to end divisive climate politics and take constructive action to reduce carbon pollution. The group has expressed deep disappointment at the abolition of the carbon tax today, while welcoming Senate action on renewable energy. It has issued a call for the Australian Parliament to show national and global leadership on climate change.

Andrew Dettmer, National President of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) said:  “The Abbott government has deliberately misled the public about the costs of action to protect Australians from climate change. Thanks to the measures around the carbon tax for instance, Australia now produces lower emissions and uses less energy to smelt metal. It seems that abolition of the tax suits the government’s rich mates, who don’t want to pay a price for their pollution.

“The AMWU is joining calls for the Abbott government to stop the lies and come clean about the cost of inaction on climate change. Rather than being hell-bent on abolishing industry programs that create real jobs, the government must take positive action to address climate change urgently. Failure to act on climate will lead to long term damage to the environment, hobbling our economy and generations to come.”

Michael Moore, CEO of the Australian Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) said: “The impact of climate change on our health will be serious and costly. The Public Health Association of Australia calls on the government to be honest about who pays the real costs of carbon pollution. The government must act to protect Australians from increases in vector-borne disease, the incidence of depression as farm land becomes less viable, as well as injury and death associated with adverse weather events.”

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), said: “We know that people experiencing poverty will be hit first and hardest by the impacts of climate change and have the least capacity to adapt. We also know that the drivers of energy prices and other costs of living pressures are much broader and more complex than the introduction of a carbon price or renewable energy target.”

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the securing of the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority was now crucial to protecting jobs growth and opportunities for innovation into the future.

“Investment and support for the local clean energy industry is vital if Australia is to create and capitalise on the high skilled, innovative, clean tech jobs of the future,” Ms Kearney said.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific stressed the importance of protecting renewable power laws, particularly considering there is now effectively nothing to discourage big polluters from dumping carbon pollution into the environment.

“With the disappointing repeal of the Carbon price, protecting the Renewable Energy Target is now even more essential,” said Senior Climate Campaigner, Nic Clyde. “Doing so should be a no-brainer, because not only is the Renewable Energy Target an effective mechanism to cut pollution, it also means billions of dollars in investment in Australia and lower electricity bills for households.”

Oxfam Australia emphasised that cutting carbon pollution is essential to fighting poverty and hunger.

“Climate change is hitting developing countries first and hardest. It is the single greatest challenge in the fight against hunger,” said Kelly Dent, Oxfam Australia’s food and climate specialist. “Australia must do its fair share towards global efforts to cut carbon pollution and support communities to adapt to climate impacts. The repeal of our carbon price is a significant step backwards that puts us out of step with the international community.”

GetUp’s National Director Sam McLean said:  “Australians want to see our nation lead the way on renewable energy. Support for meaningful action on climate change continues to grow, yet the Abbott government has failed to present a credible climate policy. The government needs to get with the times. We need climate action that makes polluters, not ordinary Australians, pay for the price of carbon pollution.”

Civil society groups have released a joint video stating their commitment to keep up the fight to force responsible action on climate change: http://youtu.be/Ir5KGOeivbk

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