Thursday, January 15, 2009

Climate expert urges larger emissions cuts

By Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers

ABC News Online, Posted Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:23am AEDT

Climate change expert Warwick McKibbin has criticised the Government's proposed emissions trading scheme as flawed, and says much bigger carbon cuts are needed.

Professor McKibbin, who is also on the Reserve Bank of Australia board, has described the scheme as "predictable and disappointing" and vulnerable to change under future governments through industry lobbying.

The Government has pledged to cut Australia's emissions by between 5 and 15 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 but Professor McKibbin says the low target will make it harder to implement deeper cuts later.

He says the short-term costs of the scheme can also be reduced if needed by releasing additional annual expiring permits, enabling the Government to meet higher targets depending on the outcome of global negotiations.

Writing in the Australian Financial Review, Professor McKibbin says revenue from the sale of carbon permits should be given directly to households and industry as "long-term" permits, instead of being collected by the Government and handed back as a "vote-buying ploy".

"All revenue should be focused on emissions reduction," he said.

An independent "carbon bank" similar to the Reserve Bank should also be established to implement climate policy and control the price of permits in the short term, Professor McKibbin said.

Environmental groups have also criticised the targets as low but industry is still pushing for a slow start to any scheme as global economic uncertainty continues.

The Government plans to start its carbon pollution reduction scheme in July next year.

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