THE development of 50,000 Gold Coast homes on a flood plain and propped precariously on the edge of man-made lakes could present problems in the future, says the Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change Greg Combet.
The former ACTU secretary made the comments while addressing delegates at the 2009 Carbon Market Expo Australasia where he was ‘shopping’ the Rudd Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).
“The Gold Coast is very vulnerable to rising oceans and is built on flood plains. There are around 50,000 homes built in areas where a rise in sea levels has a real impact. We need to get down to hard work and reduce emissions,” says Combet.
He says the business community cannot afford to turn a blind eye to what he labeled as the most significant environmental and economic reform in Australia.
The CPRS will be presented to the Opposition on November 16, prior to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December.
It will be the second run for the scheme in the House of Representatives before going to the Senate again on November 23. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has not ruled out a double disillusion election should the scheme not get the nod in the senate.
It is expected the Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull and Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources Ian McFarlane will engage in good faith discussions but will move to shut down key elements of the scheme, including leveraging the threshold from 1000 to 850 tonnes and a call to include dairy and primary producers regardless of emissions intensity.
“The fundamental message is that the business community needs to get on board. It’s a critical time both nationally and internationally with just over 40 days before Copenhagen,” says Combet.
“This government is committed to tackling climate change and failing to act is not an option. Our actions face unprecedented tests and therefore comprehensive global action is required.
“The CPRS is not going to be an area where you can do a deal here or there. There needs to be a fair contribution from all sectors of the economy including the coal industry and the community.”
Combet also shot a salvo at Nationals leader and Queensland LNP senator Barnaby Joyce, saying recent negative comments made by the climate change skeptic were ‘grossly irresponsible’.
“If you don’t want to be a part of it, get out of the way,” he says.
A potential rural backlash driven by Joyce in the bush and a national advertising campaign by the coal industry to crtiticise fundamentals of the scheme must be put into perspective says Combet.
“I was once a coal engineer, so they won’t be able to pull anything over my eyes. Coal contributes to 5 per cent of greenhouse gas, so to exclude the coal industry would mean that other sectors of the economy would have to work harder to meet targets,” he says.
Combet says the CPRS will create 1.7 million jobs over the next decade while reducing carbon.
“The science is clear and the risks are extremely clear. We have a responsibility to act as a government and as a country and Australia will continue to prosper while making these cuts,” he says.
“The scheme (CPRS) will prove to be economically sound and environmentally effective.
The business community adapts as new opportunities open up. It will be negligent for those that do not believe in climate change to prevent action due to costs. This is putting at risk our objective and Australia cannot be isolated. We cannot allow it to be irrelevant.”
Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke informed delegates of Council’s stance on reducing its carbon foot print and left his foot firmly on the gas over the ramshackle Super GP event.
“The sorts of problems on the coast concern me greatly and it’s ironic that we have this expo here just days after an event (Super GP) that exudes more emissions in three days than the rest of Australia probably does in one year. It makes no sense, it’s incongruous.”
Around 700 delegates from 27 different countries are attending the three-day Carbon Expo which will conclude tomorrow (Oct 28)
Other speakers included Austrade chief economist Tim Harcourt; Robert Hill, Chair of the Australian Carbon Trust and former Australian Environment Minister; Will Steffen, executive director of the ANU Climate Change Institute; Robert Purves, chairman Environment Business Australia and member of the Copenhagen Climate Council.
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