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Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Page: 8471


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaDeputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (10:16): The Greens will not be supporting Senator Xenophon's amendments. We are not always opposed to baseline and credit schemes—in fact, the efficient building scheme that we have proposed and put before the parliament is a baseline and credit scheme. But the problem with doing it on the scale that would be needed to address the climate crisis is that, when dealing with the whole economy, the government would have to set arbitrary baselines for all sectors and industries. Obviously, we need the broadest coverage for any kind of serious climate mitigation and adaptation effort. It is really difficult to do this in a fair and economically efficient way right across an economy. Governments are likely to make mistakes in the baselines that they set. They may set a baseline that is way too low, for example, for aluminium or way too high for steel or whatever. The government would have to intervene all over the place, making mistakes, instead of handing it over to a cap and trade scheme that allows the market to work in the way that is set out by these bills.

Also, the whole idea here is to recognise that the effort to reduce emissions is global. We have to make sure that whatever we do in Australia works well with and complements other schemes around the world. The European Union has an emissions trading scheme. California, the eighth largest economy in the world, is going to emissions trading on 1 January next year. China is moving to four pilot emissions trading projects with a view to moving to a national scheme. What we need to do is to make sure that what we do in Australia will complement what else is happening around the world and work with it. That will reduce the costs in Australia, providing the lowest cost for the adjustment to a low carbon economy. That is why we cannot support the move to baseline and credit as set out by Senator Xenophon.