Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Libs attack emissions proposal

Tom Arup 
The Age, April 30, 2009

THE Opposition will push for a different emissions trading scheme design in the Senate to that proposed by the Government. The Opposition's stance is based on independent economic advice to be released today.

Shadow minister for emissions trading design, Andrew Robb, told The Age the Opposition would not pass the Government's scheme in the Senate without a redesign.

"It is the design of the (Government's) scheme that is the problem. It is inconceivable to put this scheme on industry," Mr Robb said.

"By getting the design right then the scheme will be robust and it will allow for bad times and minimise the impact on industries but still provide an incentive to change."

Mr Robb said the Coalition had been looking "very closely" at a Canadian-style trading scheme, which charges energy-inefficient industry for carbon emissions rather than setting a price for all industrial carbon emissions.

The Canadian scheme was floated by independent Senator Nick Xenophon who last year went on a self-funded trip to Canada to investigate the "threshold" trading design.

The hardening of the Opposition's stance means the Government's scheme is unlikely to pass the Senate with its cap and trade scheme in place.

The independent economic study, to be released today, was commissioned by the Opposition last year. It has found the Government had not conducted a proper analysis of other trading scheme designs and calls for a review of all options.

The study was carried out by Centre for International Economics executive director David Pearce.

Mr Pearce backs a "broad" and "credible long-term" price on carbon, although there is movement in the Coalition, especially from the Nationals, for a purely voluntary scheme with no hard carbon price.

A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said Mr Pearce's support for a carbon price backs the Government's cap and trade approach. "By refusing to set targets and explain how they will reduce Australia's emissions, it is the Liberal Party that is increasing business uncertainty," the spokeswoman said.

Senator Wong is expected to respond directly to Mr Pearce's report today after her return from the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in the United States.

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