Households coughing up for greenhouse bills

Call to make consumers’ reduced emissions count.

If the new carbon reduction bill becomes law almost a million households which have elected to pay extra for renewable green electricity will be doing nothing to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, says a CHOICE report.

Under the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) the voluntary actions by consumers, including purchasing GreenPower and carbon offsets, will effectively make it easier and cheaper for industry to pollute.

CHOICE thinks the valuable actions taken by consumers should be counted as additional to the mandatory emissions reductions required of polluting industry.

“Consumers want to know that their efforts to date haven’t been in vain and that they can continue to contribute meaningfully to Australia’s emissions reductions,” said CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn.

Under the scheme, Australia’s biggest polluting businesses are mandated to achieve a certain emissions reduction target. When households buy accredited GreenPower or domestic carbon offsets it doesn’t help exceed this target, it simply compensates business to achieve what they are required to do anyway.

“More than 878,000 households are doing the right thing by paying more for renewable energy and that figure increased by one third in the last year. Unless this legislation can be improved, their effort and financial sacrifices, of supporting the renewable energy industry, will make no difference to Australia’s emissions,” said Zinn.

With the CPRS bill scheduled to be released in parliament this week, CHOICE is concerned that by not counting voluntary action as additional, Australia will have put all its eggs in one basket of a largely untested and potentially flawed policy, whilst effectively killing GreenPower and the carbon offsetting industry in Australia.

CHOICE supports an emissions trading system of polluter pays as critical to reducing Australia’s greenhouse emissions. “The CPRS is very much worth doing. And worth doing now. But Australians deserve to have it done right,” said Zinn.

Meanwhile CHOICE says consumers can still help by lobbying the government for change before it’s too late.

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CPRS legislation off target

Carbon pollution reduction scheme needs to ensure reduced emissions.

8 Mar 2009 | If a new bill becomes law, nearly one million households could be paying for renewable energy that does nothing to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.


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