THE energy giant AGL has said it will become the first big Australian company to join the Chicago Climate Exchange, a move that may embarrass the Federal Government as it wrangles over climate change.
The move will allow AGL to do something it cannot do at home: profit from cutting its greenhouse gas pollution in Australia.
It will help the company expand its renewable energy operations, including plans to build the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere at Macarthur in Victoria. This will power about 190,000 homes.
AGL's managing director, Paul Anthony, told the Herald the company had invested almost $2 billion in renewable energy in the past 12 months. Mr Anthony said he hoped the board would soon agree to the big investment needed for the Macarthur wind farm. It has also just bought three "bio-mass" power stations in Queensland fired by, among other things, macadamia nuts.
This leave the Federal Liberal party, (the party of big business?) decidedly flat-footed.
For the past 10 years, the Howard Government has stalled on setting up a carbon trading scheme in Australia or ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, which would allow companies to trade in the European carbon market.
Now Australian companies have no real way to measure the cost of greenhouse gas pollution caused by carbon-intensive energy sources such as coal, oil and gas, except for the Chicago Climate Exchange, which puts the price at $US5 a tonne.
So if Australian companies cut their emissions and invest in renewable energy they can find it difficult to reap an immediate reward for their efforts, while polluting competitors who stick to coal-fired power are not penalised.
The good news is that there is an election coming up as soon as Howard announces. Then we can get on with our future.
Global Warning Climate Change