Monday, July 20, 2009

Business in the dark about emissions trading

ABC News Online, Mon Jul 20, 2009 

A new report suggests the business sector is largely in the dark about the Government's plans to address climate change.

The survey by the Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) discovered only a small number of businesses have thorough knowledge of the proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme.

The AiGroup's chief executive Heather Ridout says the Government must act to educate business.

"Our members are on the job in relation to climate change. Some 70 per cent of them have already been measuring their carbon footprint or plan to do so and a similar percentage expect to really make operational changes over the next few years to do it," she told ABC Radio's The World Today program.

"The other couple of issues though, only 15 per cent have any really detailed knowledge of the carbon pollution reduction scheme and its impact on them, so that's a worry and there is huge misconceptions I think out there about how they will be impacted.

"And the final real issue that worries me is the huge growth in regulatory burden on business and the fact that we really do need to draw our line in the sand on this and get some real leadership around reducing it coincident with the implementation of a CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme)."

The survey found that 30 per cent of businesses have no knowledge whatsoever of the CPRS, and Heather Ridout blames a lack of education by the Government.

"I think whilst companies have been looking to reduce their energy use, et cetera, and quite a few have, they really have not yet engaged in the scheme and the Government have a thing called the Climate Change Action Fund which is part of the CPRS arrangement and that is aimed in part increasing information out there to business and we really think that that should be rolled out ASAP," she said.

"I think if we are going to lay the foundations for a successful transition, we need to start the education process sooner rather than later."

Wide impact

Heather Ridout also believes that many smaller companies not directly affected by the scheme will be impacted by big businesses trying to cut the carbon intensiveness of their inputs.

"There will be 1000 companies roughly tied up with the emissions trading part of the scheme, but the big companies that want small companies to supply with them, the report shows that they will be making changes to their procurement arrangements," she commented.

"Electricity costs are going to double over the next ten years because of this scheme so all companies, all business in all sectors, are going to be to some extent caught up in changing Australia's carbon footprint and so, yes, you can run but you can't hide from this scheme."

Heather Ridout also sees the need for further amendments to the emissions trading legislation before it passes through Parliament.

"We see a few things that need to happen. I mean the Government have moved quite a long way and the delay in the start dates are good and I think we are quite happy with that aspect of it but, in terms of emissions intensive industries, there is still work that needs to be done there," she said.

"We still see the need for more work with trade exposed companies, the coal industry, the generators are still sitting out there."

Mrs Ridout says that business will welcome a resolution to negotiations in the Parliament so that a bill is passed to provide certainty for companies in their forward planning.

"The regulatory issues need to be addressed so there is still a range of improvements that need to be made to the legislation," she said.

"If they can be made, we are happy to see legislation go through before the end of the year."

Based on an interview by Emma Griffiths for The World Today

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