Gillard commits to CPRS with conditions

PM Julia Gillard says she supports emissions trading, but new conditions will be imposed before a scheme is introduced

Gillard commits to CPRS with conditions
Gillard commits to CPRS with conditions
By Brad Gardner | July 23, 2010

An emissions trading scheme that applies to the trucking industry will still be introduced by a Gillard government, but extra conditions will be imposed.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today outlined her policy on climate change that will be implemented if she is elected on August 21.

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) will still be delayed until at least 2012 but will now involve the establishment of an expert commission and a community assembly.

The Climate Change Commission will be responsible for explaining the science of climate change, while the 150-strong Citizens’ Assembly will be given a year to examine the evidence and look at possible consequences of introducing emissions trading.

"Their work would be supported with evidence, analysis and access to the views and positions of a wide range of advocates," Gillard says of the assembly.

"If we are going to meet this pollution challenge, we need the consensus on a market-based solution to reducing carbon emissions to be like the kind of consensus we have about Medicare."

Under the CPRS, fuel retailers will need to buy fuel permits to pollute. The costs will be passed down the chain, leading to higher fuel prices for the trucking industry and motorists.

The industry will be given a one-year reprieve from price rises, with the Government committing to cutting one cent from the fuel excise for every one cent rise due to emissions trading.

During her speech Gillard warned of the consequences of not addressing climate change, citing rising sea levels and an increase in global temperatures.

"Each decade since the 1940s has been warmer than the last," she says, adding that her government will cut pollution levels by at least 5 percent by 2020.

While saying the case for emissions trading will not convince everyone, Gillard says she will not allow the country "to be held to ransom by a few people with extreme views that will never be changed".

The Citizens Assembly will be made up of volunteers selected by an independent body to inform the Government on concerns that need be addressed before the transition to a lower pollution economy.

However, Nationals leader Warren Truss has questioned how the assembly of 150 people will be selected and whether it will include a broad section of views.

"Will there be any climate change sceptics invited? Will anyone be allowed to go who believes that giant new taxes are not the best way to reduce CO2 emissions? Will consumers and industry who would have to pay for new carbon taxes be invited?" Truss asks.

"If it is full of climate change zealots, its outcomes will be predictable but farcical."

Truss claims the Coalition is the only party with a plan to address climate change and improve the environment.

Under the Coalition’s scheme, which will cost $3.2 billion over four years, a $2.5 billion Emissions Reduction Fund will be created to support carbon reduction activities by business and industry by the middle of 2011.

Businesses that cut their emissions below their historical averages will be able to sell the abatement to the Federal Government. The policy is designed to entice companies to take action on climate change.

Businesses that exceed their historical average will pay a financial penalty, but the Opposition has not detailed what the figure will be.

Incentives will be provided to the oldest and least efficient operations, while the plan will also focus on planting 20 million trees, introducing a $1000 solar rebate and storing about 85 million tonnes of carbon in soil by 2020.

Gillard has also committed to rewarding businesses that reduce their pollution levels, a move advocated by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

In its election brief to both sides of politics, it called for incentives to be introduced to encourage operators to move to new technologies and alternative fuels.

"The trucking industry could achieve even greater gains in environmental performance through the use of longer, safer trucks on appropriate routes," the ATA says.

Gillard also pledged to ensure all new power stations meet best practice standards on carbon emissions and that the baselines for industry assistance already outlined in the CPRS will not be increased.

The Greens want a $23 tax per tonne of carbon from July 1 next year until the CPRS is introduced.

Under its plan, the rate will increase by four percent plus CPI each year until a global scheme for reducing emissions is negotiated.

The Greens are also opposed to compensating the trucking industry under emissions trading, with a spokesman labelling it "nonsensical".

"It is just nonsense to put transport in with one hand and then offset it through the fuel tax system," he says.

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