The Greens have gained support for their principled stand on climate change. Their attempt to focus this into a concrete alterative came last month with the release of 22 amendments to the CPRS, in an omnibus “Safe Climate Bill”.
To their credit—and unlike some major climate NGOs—The Greens have held the line against the current CPRS and continuously called it a “worse than nothing” scheme that will “lock in failure”.
Unfortunately, the Safe Climate Bill is a weak alternative. It fails to acknowledge that the central failure in the CPRS is the idea that the market can solve the problem of climate change, in the form of carbon trading.
So The Greens call for a “real” carbon trading scheme, designed to “correct market failure”. But this is like fighting fire with fire.
Even an ETS without free permits, compensation and a price cap allows the big polluting corporations to continue paying their way out of, and therefore delaying, the transition to renewable energy.
As the twice-failed EU scheme showed, one way they can do this is by passing any costs onto consumers.
There are some very commendable elements in the bill—like investment in bus, rail and bike infrastructure, free energy efficiency upgrades for homes, efficiency in the electricity grid, and reinstating support for a scheme that provided solar to remote communities.
Also good are elements such as an end to old growth logging, a just transition plan for affected workers, and an end to some compensation for polluters and a cut to the use of dodgy offset schemes. 
Unfortunately, most of these initiatives rely on “revenue” from the CPRS or to schemes aimed at securing private, rather than public, investment. The proposals are geared around making action on climate change profitable.
The result is a proposal that looks to what’s deemed politically feasible rather than what will actually work to save the climate.
The Greens need to reject Rudd’s obsession with market solutions if they are to present policies that can lead a transition to a zero carbon future.
By Amy Thomas

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