Angus Taylor says while carryover credits are ‘relatively small’ part of carbon budget, any decision to ditch them would be catastrophic
— Angus Taylor has insisted it would be “apocalyptic” for the economy if Labor did not use Kyoto carryover credits towards its emissions reduction targets, while still maintaining they were “relatively small in terms of the overall carbon budget”.
Following on from his Sunday interview in which he falsely claimed emissions had gone down, though the government’s own data showed a 0.9% increase, the energy minister accused critics of “cherry-picking” time periods to prove their points, when his own assertions relied on just the last quarter, instead of the whole year.
And in a rare interview Melissa Price agreed with Taylor’s false assertions, telling reporters: “If you have a look on the data over the last quarter, they have gone down.”
Reminded that over the last year they had gone up, the environment minister said that wasn’t where her attention was directed. “I am focused on the good news,” she said.
Labor is yet to say whether the Kyoto carryover credits of a 367-megatonne abatement would be used in its 45% reduction target. The government has included them in its own smaller target of 26%.
Countries which exceeded their Kyoto target are allowed to use that excess towards the later Paris commitment, meaning that past carbon reductions can be counted towards future targets.
Speaking to Sky News, the “minister for lowering electricity prices” said it would be irresponsible for Labor not to use the carryover credits.
“[Labor’s 45% target] will be economy-wrecking if they do use the carryover,” Taylor said. “It will apocalyptic if they don’t use it.
“This is the real question, it remains unanswered, and we remain very proud of Australia’s track record in getting to the Kyoto obligations, whether it is 2010 obligations or 2020, and our progress on Paris for 2030.
“I would also say to this, that we have the lowest levels of emissions per capita now for 29 years, and you know, everyone likes, there are lots who like to talk down Australia’s performance in this area – it is very strong. And that is a time when we have had in recent years a very, very strong economy, strong LNG exports and you know, it is an astounding achievement.”
At the same time Taylor insisted the carryover credits were “relatively small” in terms of the overall carbon budget. “But it makes a very big difference if Labor chooses not to use it,” he said.
Asked how not using the carryover credits could be “apocalyptic” yet at the same time form a small part of the Coalition’s plan, Taylor said it was possible for them to be both.
“Because if you look at the independent modelling of Labor getting to 45% using the carryover, you get a cut of wages of $9,000 a year, you get 336,000 jobs loss, so that is devastating. It is a wrecking ball for the economy, but you get to a point where getting any more just becomes apocalyptic. It is too hard.”
The Greens MP, Adam Bandt, said it was unclear to him how Labor would meet its 45% emissions reduction target by 2030 without using the carryover credits.
“Given Labor has abandoned a carbon price and is now coming up with a sector-by-sector approach to emissions reduction, it is not at all clear how they’ll meet even their low 45% on 2005 target without relying on the dodgy carryover credits,” he said.
“They’ve locked in a pro-rata 45% cut in electricity. Not only is this less than business as usual, but it puts the burden on other sectors.”
The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, on Monday described the use of carryover credits to meet targets as “technically possible” while criticising the government’s record on emissions reduction. He did not rule out Labor also using the on-paper measure.
“This government is relying on a technical loophole to do the heavy lifting because they don’t have other climate change policies,” he said. “What they are doing may be technically possible to do but practically it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for real action on climate change.”
Australia’s emissions have continued to rise, carrying on a trend established in 2013 when Abbott government abolished the Gillard government’s price on carbon.
Taylor would not say whether it was “more accurate” to admit that total emissions had increased over the last five years, though they were down in the last quarter.
“I’ll tell you what is more accurate, is to stop cherry picking time periods for a gotcha question,” he said, adding: “The real question is are we going to reach our international obligations. That is what counts.”
by Amy Remeikis | The Guardian