Wednesday, April 29, 2009

ETS a 'black hole of uncertainty'

By Alexandra Kirk for AM

ABC News Online, Posted 30th April 2009

As Prime Minister Kevin Rudd sits down with premiers to talk climate change today, the Opposition has released the report it commissioned into Labor's emissions trading scheme, saying it confirms all of its fears.

The Pearce Review is an independent economic study commissioned to help finalise the Coalition's climate change position.

The report finds Kevin Rudd's plan "potentially threatens the balance sheets of key industries" and does not assess the economic impact of the first 20 or 30 years of the scheme.

The Government is seeking to get its carbon pollution reduction scheme passed by the Senate in June.

At every turn it charges Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull with bending to climate scepticism if his party does not back Labor's reform.

But Opposition emissions trading spokesman Andrew Robb says the Government is "flying blind".

"The report establishes that the Government is rushing head-long into a scheme with no idea how many jobs will be destroyed, no idea how it will affect different industries or regions, or even whether the scheme is the best option available," he said.

"The next 20 years is a black hole involving massive risk and uncertainty."

Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Greg Combet maintains the report is broadly supportive of Mr Rudd's carbon reduction blueprint, at the same time accusing the Liberals of "extraordinary economic recklessness" for refusing to announce their emissions policy.

Mr Robb has indicated the Opposition will insist on substantial changes, warning the Government it cannot afford to ignore this critique.

"The Government hasn't seen the report for one. This Government wants to rush head-long into a scheme as an act of blind faith, without doing the critical work necessary to give people the confidence that a scheme is manageable, and won't cost tens of thousands of jobs," he said.

"They need to look at what is in this report and act on it, or otherwise they'll have no hope of getting support for their scheme."

'Economic lunacy'

Mr Combet is also targeting the Greens, saying it is "economic lunacy" for them to argue for an unconditional 40 per cent cut in emissions by 2020.

He is warning the carbon price would skyrocket and the cost to jobs and investment would be massive.

"The Greens' position as it stands is economically irresponsible, completely economically unrealistic, and I really call upon them to start to find a bit more common sense," Mr Combet said.

Without the Coalition's support, the Government will be seven votes short in the Senate. That puts the spotlight on the Greens.

Mr Combet says they are making themselves irrelevant by persisting with "economically and politically unachievable goals".

"This would take the back of the axe to the economy, and in particular to industries like aluminium, smelting steel production, coal mining, cement manufacturing and a host of others," he said.

But Greens' climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne says it is the only way to save the environment.

"The Greens want a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme that is good enough to give a chance of rescuing the climate, but at the same time strong enough to drive transformation in the Australian economy," she said.

"Clearly Greg Combet is so married to the old coal sector and the fossil fuel industries that he's not prepared to see that he's compromising Australia's economic future and the planet in terms of the climate."

"If Greg Comet and Kevin Rudd just want to protect the coal industry, it is they who will be condemning Australia to a non-competitive position."

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