Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Government ETS delay: A back-flip to the future

I don't know what to think about the Australian Government's 2011 back-flip on the starting date of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

The economy is going sideways. This means fewer carbon emissions caused by lower productivity. A delayed introduction will help businesses by delaying compliance costs, but it is only a delay. And, we miss the chance to go to Copenhagen and negotiate with more leverage. I do think this is a big-picture mistake because Australia's (or any country's) best shot at mitigation is as part of a global effort.

In what's becoming a knack of this government, it's a back-flip with a twist. In the following case, for the greater good:

The government has delayed its emissions trading scheme (ETS) a year to July 2011, citing the global economic crisis.

But Labor has also pushed up its emissions reduction target to 25 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 - up from a maximum of 15 per cent - depending on the strength of an international agreement. The bottom end of the target range is still five per cent.

They sneaked that in without much protest. Wong and Co also neutralised one of the criticisms of the pollution reduction scheme — that carbon emissions savings by conscientious households would allow business more ceiling to pollute in. Well, Rudd's mob seem to have thought about that.

Concerned householders will be able to calculate their carbon output and buy permits to pollute, effectively taking these permits out of circulation.

Because the scheme will have a set number of permits for trading, permits bought in this way will not be available to polluting industries, thus reducing the amount of pollution able to be pumped into the atmosphere.

These permits will be bought by a new Australian Carbon Trust – Energy Efficiency Savings Pledge Fund, which will pool donations to buy the permits.

Seems like they have been consultative, which is a good sign. If I could say anything to them, my echo in the blogiverse would be to take heart from the British Colombian government's recent victory.

The only government in North America to implement a carbon tax to fight climate change has been re-elected handily in British Columbia.

And to take heed.

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