‘Polluter pays’: welfare lobby demands climate compensation for people on low incomes

the australian council of social services wants ‘at least’ a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030
The Australian Council of Social Services wants ‘at least’ a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 coupled with regular indexation of the energy supplement to compensate welfare recipients. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

Social services statement backs Labor’s emissions reduction target as a minimum

— Action on climate change should make polluters pay and include compensation for people on low incomes, according to the social services sector.

The Australian Council of Social Services and others have called for “at least” a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 coupled with regular indexation of the energy supplement to compensate welfare recipients.

Throughout the election campaign the Coalition has attacked Labor’s plan for a 45% emissions reduction target and goal of 50% renewable energy with modelling from BA Economics claiming this would increase wholesale electricity prices by 20% and reduce wages by 3% over a decade.

Bill Shorten has rejected the modelling as propaganda – in part because it did not model the benefits of mitigating climate change – and argued that inaction on climate change makes solutions more expensive.

The social services climate statement, released on Friday, backs the Labor emissions reduction target as a minimum, as well as the Greens policy to end subsidies for fossil fuel production and use.

The statement calls for “a credible, low-cost and equitable plan to transition to a clean economy that includes a polluter pays principle, direct government investment and targeted support” for disadvantaged groups.

“Climate change is not only a threat to our environment, it threatens people’s homes, livelihoods, health, quality of life, employment and increases risks and burdens for future generations,” it said. “It is a social justice and intergenerational equity issue. Climate change hits people living on low incomes or experiencing disadvantage first and hardest.”

The social services bodies called for an increase in the unemployment benefit Newstart and to include the energy supplement in welfare recipients’ base payments so it grows in line with inflation rather than remaining frozen at $4.40 a week.

The Coalition attempted to limit the supplement to new welfare recipients but was forced to back down in August when the measure was blocked by the Senate.

The social service sector also recommended investment in home energy efficiency and production, including mandatory energy efficiency standards for rental housing, energy efficiency and solar for social housing and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to help lower power bills.

The sector wants a climate change adaptation and resilience plans, including funding development of an Australian climate change social vulnerability map.

The Coalition’s $2bn 15-year climate solutions fund would pay polluters to reduce emissions and includes a “safeguards mechanism” to limit pollution growth, although it has not spelled out how each sector will contribute to its 26% emissions reduction target.


by Paul Karp | The Guardian

 

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