Mar 12: Understanding Emissions Trading

WWF has recently released a statement on the emissions trading draft legislation put forward by the Rudd government urging all sides of Australian politics to work together to deliver a bipartisan and effective carbon emissions reduction policy before the Copenhagen conference in December. But what is emissions trading?

ETS stands for Emissions Trading Scheme, which is the central part of the Australian government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Emissions trading is, rather obviously, a market based scheme for controlling emissions by allowing polluters to buy and sell permits for emissions.

WWF-Australia has called on the Australian government to improve the target in the ETS. As WWF-Australia has previously noted, the revelation the Earth's temperature could rise by as much as 6oC has reinforced the need to set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 25 per cent below 1990 levels. The current limit is set to 5-15%, something WWF-Australia has described as 'pitiful'.

"It is critical we get the tool of emissions trading into our armoury before Copenhagen," said WWF-Australia CEO Greg Bourne.

"This is a must so as to be credible in the negotiation and part of the global leadership team to tackle runway climate change." "The Government's target is not good enough in its current form and must be strengthened. We urge all parties to work to improve the environmental effectiveness of the CPRS bill to get it through."

Effective targets are important if we hope to achieve a global consensus at Copenhagen, which will be crucial to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change.

Despite current global financial unease, WWF-Australia believes the consequences to the economy of delaying tackling climate change will be far more dramatic. WWF-Australia said the Federal Government must ensure the rapid development of alternative energy, such as geothermal, and the
deployment of carbon capture and storage technology, as well as implement a fair, effective emissions reduction scheme.

"We must ensure voluntary individual actions, such as the purchase of GreenPower or insulating their homes, reduce Australia's emissions. We can't have a situation where such actions simply allow big polluters to pollute even more," Mr Bourne said.

For more information on WWF-Australia's position on climate change, check out Climate Solutions, the report of WWF's Energy Taskforce which was set up in December 2005.

You can also see WWF-Australia CEO Greg Bourne talking to ABC's 4 Corners here.

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