Thursday, July 3, 2008

Garnaut urges emissions trading scheme 'without delay'

ABC Online News, Posted 7 minutes ago 

Updated 8 minutes ago

Economics professor Ross Garnaut's draft climate change report calls for Australia to have an emissions trading scheme to cut greenhouse gases.

He calls for a system to cap greenhouse emissions and have a permit system for industry.

But he says there should be a delay in including agriculture because it is hard to measure the greenhouse emissions in that sector.

The Federal Government is committed to an emissions trading scheme from 2010, but the Opposition is sceptical about the time frame.

Professor Garnaut says the scheme would have a transition period for two years from 2010, but he says there should be no hesitation in starting it.

"Without early and strong action, some time before 2020 we will realise we've indelibly surrendered to forces that have moved beyond our control," he said.

"Delaying now will eliminate attractive lower cost options. Delaying now is not postponing a decision, it's making a decision.

"To delay is deliberately to choose to avoid effective steps to reduce the risks of climate change to acceptable levels."

Key points of the draft report

  • Transport should be included in an emissions trading scheme along and including as many sectors as possible will help spread the costs across the economy.
  • $3 billion per year should be committed to low-emissions technology research and development and a new research council should be set up to coordinate this.
  • An emissions trading scheme is the best option to reduces emissions as compared to a tax or hybrid scheme.
  • Emissions permits should be sold competitively.
  • The emissions trading scheme could have a transitional phase from 2010-2012 - during this time permits could be sold at a "low fixed" price.
  • The Building Australia Fund, announced in the May Federal Budget, should be also used to for energy infrastructure.
  • Energy Prices will rise under the scheme and will hit low-income households hardest - these households will need to be compensated.
  • Half of the funds collected from the sale of permits can be used to compensate households through tax and social security payments.
  • Australia should lead the way in making carbon capture storage commercially viable and to help Asia reduce their levels.
  • Areas that rely on coal-based power stations will need specific support.

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