COFFS Coast residents who pay extra for green electricity are making it cheaper for big polluters to meet emissions reduction targets under the government's climate change legislation, consumer group Choice says.
Spokesman Christopher Zinn said more than 878,000 households had chosen to pay more for renewable energy in the belief that they were helping reduce carbon emissions.
Mr Zinn said under Labor's proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS), Australia's biggest polluting businesses would be required to achieve a certain emissions reduction target.
When households buy accredited green power or domestic carbon offsets, it doesn't help exceed this target but rather simply makes it cheaper for business to achieve what they are required to do anyway, he said.
“As it stands the CPRS plan undermines consumer choice,” he said in a statement. “Carbon pollution avoided as a result of voluntary consumer action should be counted as additional to the mandatory emissions reductions required of polluting industry.
“Consumers want to know that their efforts to date haven't been in vain and that they can continue to contribute meaningfully to Australia's response to climate change.”
The government detailed what it wants to achieve through its climate change white paper with the draft legislation to be unveiled on Tuesday.
Mr Zinn said unless this legislation could be improved consumers' financial sacrifices would be wasted as it would make no difference to Australia's emissions. “The current policy will effectively kill the green power scheme and the carbon offset industry in Australia,” he said.
“The CPRS is very much worth doing and worth doing now. But Australians deserve to have it done right.”