And my proposal is a proposal that was in the original report. I call the situation we're in after Copenhagen, the waiting game.
We're waiting for international agreement to provide a basis for international trade in permits. I suggested then, and I think it's the right case now, in the waiting game, to legislate the ETS and to fix the price over a period.
Given the "Government has great difficulty in the legislation of the ETS", Garnaut has a Plan B. He laid it out in his 2008 report, The Garnaut Climate Change Review.
TONY JONES: Tony Abbott says the Government doesn't have a Plan B, if the Emissions Trading Scheme fails at every hurdle to be passed as legislation.
The Greens say that you actually have a Plan B and that Plan B is for a carbon tax - $20 a tonne - on the thousand top polluters in the country and that they, the Greens, are prepared to support it.
Is that in fact your Plan B?
PROF ROSS GARNAUT: That's the waiting game to which I referred. And which was...
TONY JONES: It wasn't- it wasn't quite clear because you referred to it as Emissions Trading Scheme legislation, but in fact, it seems to be that what the Greens are saying is this wouldn't be an Emissions Trading Scheme but a transition towards one. It would begin with two years of, effectively, a carbon tax.
PROF ROSS GARNAUT: I think they were referring to my waiting game proposal, which puts in place the ETS but has the regulator making permits available at a fixed price.
So you don't have trade in permits, you don't have fluctuations in price, until you've got an international agreement that allows us to set our targets with confidence and allows a confident basis for international trade in permits.
TONY JONES: Are you encouraged that the Greens appear to be prepared to vote in the Senate for that kind of Plan B approach and should the Government take that on board and start negotiating with the cross bench senators on that basis?
PROF ROSS GARNAUT: I'm not going to get in the middle of these complex Senate negotiations, Tony.
I think that the proposals I described as the waiting game are the best way forward in the circumstances after Copenhagen and anyone who supports them, I think, is on the right tram.
I'm glad Garnaut has a Plan B, one that sounds like the Australian economy can start now to absorb the cost, and begin seriously thinking of ways to turn it into profit when we reach the end of the waiting game. The two year deadline for the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation to become an Emissions Trading Scheme gives certainty to business to invest and encouragement to those people, families, and communities who have personally invested in minimising their footprint.