Coalition ETS amendments shows denalists have won

October 21, 2009

The amendments proposed by the Coalition (really, the Liberal Party, since the Nationals outright oppose any ETS) are simply a way to divert more money to heavy polluters and will do nothing for the environment.

If the amendments are accepted, the already compromised CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, Australia’s cap and trade scheme) will achieve absolutely nothing except the enrichment of the carbon-lobby.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has recently released a summary of the changes:

The changes would see the Australian government handing out $10 billion in compensation for coal-fired electricity generators, and would require them to buy less carbon permits than proposed under the governments CPRS.

Other changes proposed under the Coalition amendments include:

  • excluding emissions from coal mines and moving to permanently ban the inclusion of agriculture in any trading scheme
  • Huge concessions to trade-exposed polluting industries “ starting at 94.5 per cent free permits, then 90 per cent by 2015. These concessions to remain in force until at least 80 per cent of the industries’ international competitors are faced with a carbon price
  • allowing farmers to make money out of the scheme by creating offsets, while excluding them from paying for their emissions
  • free permits to be given to food processors such as meat and milk producers

The Australian Conservation Foundation conducted its own analysis of the scheme which indicated the Opposition amendments would cost $8.9 billion over the first five years of the scheme in additional compensation. That includes an extra $3 billion in free permits to heavy-polluting industries and $4.6 billion for coal-fired electricity generators.

The ACF estimated $4.8 billion in revenue would also be lost under Coalition plans to exclude emissions from coal mining. It said if the amendments were accepted, the first year of the scheme would cost the budget $402 million, as opposed to a $775 million benefit under current proposals.

As I have written elsewhere, Labor needs to take a strong stand on climate change. The CPRS is a flawed policy instrument, but it is the only thing on the table.

The Government needs to ensure that it doesn’t so further compromise the CPRS that its already small steps send us backwards.

The proposals by the Liberal Party show that Malcolm Turnbull, far from winning at the party-room last weekend, has completely caved into the climate change deniers in his own party.

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