Australian community leaders unite in defending a price on pollution

Note: representatives of the AMWU, ACOSS, ACF, AYCC, PHAA, UFU and ARRCC will conduct a press conference in the Senate courtyard, Parliament House, on Tuesday 8 July at 10.30 am.

More than twenty civil society groups ranging from trade unions to youth, health, emergency services and faith-based groups, have united in a call to Australia’s new Senators to protect Australians from climate change.

For groups including ACOSS, the ACTU and Save the Children that means that the Senate must vote to keep a price and limit on greenhouse pollution and to protect our existing renewable power laws.

This legislation is crucial as it creates jobs in the renewables sector and provide billions in investment to industry.

Andrew Dettmer, National President of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, says the union movement supports a price on pollution because it is the best way to secure the future of workers, their families and the Australian community.

“Making polluters pay, rather than ordinary Australian families, is the fairest way to protect Australians from climate change,” Mr Dettmer said.

“Investing in clean energy production creates jobs, it’s as simple as that.”

Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, says that ACOSS supports a price on pollution and renewable power laws, because low-income earners are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather, bushfires, floods and food price increases.

“People living on low-incomes will be the first and worst hit by the effects of climate change.

“It is irresponsible to repeal the clean energy laws when they remain the only credible and independently assessed mechanism for Australia to adopt.”

“Rewarding investment in clean energy and energy efficiency assistance programmes makes sense, creating significant employment opportunities and leading to substantial savings in energy costs over time,” Dr Goldie said.

“There are no climate change sceptics at the end of a firehose. Firefighters know that climate change is real and happening now. They see it in the changing patterns, frequency and intensity of recent blazes in several states,” said Peter Marshall, National Secretary of the United Firefighters Union of Australia.

“Global warming is not only an environmental issue. Without dramatic action the potential for adverse impacts on health are enormous. There is already evidence of an increase in vector-borne disease, depression as farm land becomes less viable as well as injury and death associated with adverse weather events,” said Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia.

“We see it as a moral and theological imperative to recognise the rights of all people, especially the rights of future generations and those in poverty, who will bear the heavy cost of our dependence on carbon-based energy if we lack the will to limit climate change,” said Dr Beth Heyde, Member of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, and Chair of the Public Affairs Commission of the Anglican General Synod.

“The Synod met just last week and unanimously expressed grave concern to the Government that a market mechanism such as an emission trading scheme is not part of its strategy to address climate change – and urged the Government to do much more to decrease Australia’s heavy fossil fuel dependence.

“A market mechanism such as an Emissions Trading Scheme is not a carbon tax – it is a key way by which 21st century Australia can achieve two important goals: lowering the very serious risks from global warming which have been so clearly identified by the IPCC, and moving to a thriving, sustainable economy based on renewable energy rather than fossil fuels,” said Dr Heyde.

“As young people, we have the most at stake and we need our leaders to listen and act urgently. Our message to new Senators is this: think about your children and grandchildren, the future generations who will bear the cost of your decisions on climate,” said Lucy Manne, National Co-Director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

“What mustn’t be forgotten in this debate is that our price on pollution is working,” said Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

“Since its inception, pollution from electricity generation has fallen more than ten per cent, total pollution has fallen more than at any time in more than two decades, clean energy is booming and all without hurting families.

“Why would any government scrap a policy that works as well and as efficiently as this one?”