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Call 'pollution market' by its real name, says RAM


RAM - Residents Action Movement

Media release 26 August 2008

Call 'pollution market' by its real name, says RAM

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today claimed that her party had won "substantial changes" to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) following talks with Labour cabinet ministers.

How accurate is this claim by Ms Fitzsimons?

Going into the talks with Labour, the most loudly voiced concerns of the Green Party caucus were that the agriculture and transport sectors were not coming into the ETS early enough.

Ms Fitzsimons today said that now "a target for agricultural emissions reduction before 2015 will be gazetted".

But is this really a "substantial change" to the ETS?

Not according to Grant Morgan, chair of the Residents Action Movement, better known as RAM, a broad left people's movement.

"One very important word has been left out of the new agreement on the ETS," Mr Morgan observed. "That word is 'mandatory'. So long as a closer target for agricultural emissions reduction is not made mandatory, it's just a lot of hot air. It's government spin because agriculture does not have to meet the voluntary target. Sadly, the Greens are recycling Labour's spin and thus misleading public opinion."

Nor will there be any hastening of the transport sector's entry into the ETS under the new deal struck between Labour and the Greens.

"The transport sector will remain able to pollute with impunity until 2015," noted Roger Fowler, RAM's transport spokesperson. "As well, the Green caucus has consistently refused to support RAM's campaign over the last four years for free and frequent public transport as a boldly realistic way of slashing carbon emissions. We need to shift motorway funds into fare-free trains and buses, but the Greens won't agree because they know Labour strongly disapproves. They are putting their political pact with Labour ahead of our environment."

Going on the evidence, neither of the two most loudly voiced Green concerns have been met by Labour's recent tweakings of the ETS. This is at variance with Green claims of "substantial changes", which appear to be mostly aimed at winning votes.

"RAM calls on the Green Party leadership to reject the Emissions Trading Scheme as a whole," said Michelle Ducat, RAM's ecology co-spokesperson. "The solution to climate change does not lie in creating a market for pollution, where corporations trade their greenhouse gas credits and debits on a new stock exchange. This is merely placing the market in charge of the problem that they created in the first place."

Ms Ducat's comments seem to be vindicated by the experiences of Europe. In many Western European countries, emissions trading schemes have been in place for years, yet official statistics reveal that greenhouse gas pollution has been increasing, not decreasing.

Late last week, Green leaders called for responses on whether their party should support or reject the ETS. Yesterday a Green Party spokesperson revealed that the 2,000 email responses were split 50:50. Since most of these responses were likely to be from Green members, it seems their rank-and-file are split down the middle over the issue.

"It is very worrying that the Green Party caucus refuse to call the Emissions Trading Scheme by its real name - a pollution market," said RAM chair Grant Morgan. "Big corporations around the world are raking in grotesque profits from trading in greenhouse gases which could kill off all life on our planet. Their pollution market is both immoral and scary."

"RAM has put up a positive, robust alternative to the Green Party MP's who are giving away ecology as they cuddle up to Labour," said Mr Morgan. "In our RAM Plan, we put humans and our habitat before the profits and power of the big corporations who think they can dictate to everyone else on the planet."


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