Coalition Criticised Over its Ineffective Direct Action Policy

Canberra, Australia ( April 01, 2011

Coalition Criticised Over its Ineffective Direct Action Policy

Coalition Criticised Over its Ineffective Direct Action Policy

The Coalition’s ineffective Direct Action Policy is in tatters today following serious criticism of its underlying assumptions by respected scientists.

The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, said Tony Abbott should explain how his Direct Action policy would achieve its objectives following criticism of its underlying assumptions by reputable scientific organisations such as CSIRO, the Australian Farm Institute and the Wentworth Group on Lateline last night.*

Key criticisms made of the Coalition’s Direct Action policy were that:

  • The Coalition has severely underestimated the amount of land they would need to achieve their assertion that 150 million tonnes of carbon could be abated by soil carbon;
  • They have overestimated the abatement that can be achieved through soil carbon processes; and
  • They have neglected the fact that soil carbon is currently not recognised under the international accounting rules as contributing to our international commitments.

“Mr Hunt originally claimed that only 10,000 hectares of land would be needed to deliver 150 million tonnes of abatement per year, however CSIRO research indicates 500 million hectares could be needed – meaning Mr Hunt got this wrong by a factor of 50,000!” Mr Combet said.

To put this in perspective Australia’s total cropland is currently around 26 million hectares and 500 million hectares is around 65% of the Australian land mass.

“The fact is that Tony Abbott’s Direct Action policy is an economic and environmental joke. It will not achieve the cuts in pollution we need to make, would not transform our economy, will create a $30 billion black hole in our budget and cost an average family $720 a year,” said Mr Combet.

“In contrast the Government’s carbon price will cut pollution and drive investment in a clean energy economy. Under our policy the largest polluters in Australia, numbering less than 1,000, will be required to pay for their pollution for the very first time. Every cent raised will then be used to assist households with price impacts, support jobs in the most affected industries and tackle climate change.”

The Government is also continuing to fund research into how the management of soil carbon through programs such as the Soil Carbon Research Program.

Carbon levels in soils vary because of natural factors such as drought and human activity. While the scientific basis for managing soil carbon is improving, there are still many questions over how it can be used to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution levels.

The Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative will also provide an avenue for farmers to receive economic benefits from the management of soil carbon, but through a process that is based on sound scientific, economic and environmental principles.

* Lateline transcript

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