Friday, July 4, 2008

Govt under pressure over carbon trading time frame

ABC News Online, Posted 8 hours 39 minutes ago 

Updated 7 hours 53 minutes ago

The Federal Government is preparing its response to Professor Ross Garnaut's draft report, which warns of dire consequences if an emissions trading scheme is not introduced.

Professor Garnaut called for a system to cap greenhouse emissions and a permit system for industry. He wants the scheme introduced in 2010, but with a two year phase in period.

"These next few years will be crucial, we've got to have a strong global regime in place by 2013," he said.

Professor Garnaut has described the challenge of cutting greenhouse gas emissions as "diabolical" and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong agrees.

"There's no running away from the fact that this is tough economic reform, we've never pretended otherwise," she said.

But she says the Government will release a discussions paper on the possible models for the scheme later this month.

"We will consider carefully the advice that Professor Garnaut has provided to Government," she said.

Opposition spokesman for climate change Greg Hunt is not yet committing to that timetable and does not think an emissions trading scheme should be rushed.

"Let's not set an arbitrary date. Let's look at what will reduce emissions in a real and meaningful way," he said.

But he wants the Government to clarify immediately, whether petrol will be included.

Professor Garnaut will begin a tour of the country next week and will hold public discussion forums in five capital cities.

'One in all in'

A tourism and transport lobby group says all industries need to be involved in an emissions trading scheme if it is to be truly fair.

In his draft report Professor Garnaut recommended a delay in including the agricultural industry, because of the difficulty in measuring greenhouse gas emissions from that sector.

Christopher Brown from the Tourism and Transport Forum says that would continue a long list of unfair subsidies for the agricultural sector.

"We think it's a one in all in, it's an approach that does provide greater equity, it takes away different parts of the economy being either unfairly penalised, or unfairly allowed out of their global and national responsibilities," he said.

Professor Garnaut says only the worst-affected industries should get extra help.

"It will be a nightmare if there's an attempt to compensate them all," he said.

Professor Garnaut says coal dependent regions can survive because there are ways to clean it up.

"The technology works what we don't know is the cost of introducing these technologies on a commercial scale," he said.

He says households should be compensated for higher fuel, electricity and food costs.

Natural gas role

The natural gas industry says it is pleased Professor Garnaut has recognised the role it can play in generating base load power.

Australian Pipeline Industry Association chief executive Cheryl Cartwright says natural gas could play a critical role in reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

"Not only short, medium term, but possibly longer term, it's not only a transitional fuel because it's 50 per cent less emissions than coal," she said.

"In the longer term there's plenty of gas and it could actually become part of our mainstream energy generation future."

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