Government supports view that industry knows best on emissions

By: Jason Whittaker

The Rudd Government is supporting the trucking lobby’s push for the industry to decide itself how best to reduce greenhouse

The Rudd Government is supporting the trucking lobby’s push for the industry to decide itself how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Government’s emissions trading scheme paper, released by Minister for Climate Change Penny Wong, says it is not possible for government to rely on regulation to reduce emissions.

The paper, which calls for transport to be included as part of the "broad coverage" of emissions trading, wants obligations for fuel emissions to be put on upstream fuel suppliers.

It advocates businesses and households are best placed to develop means to slash their carbon output, echoing comments made by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) that stringent regulatory controls are not the answer.

The lobby group supports upstream acquittal because it says it is the lowest cost burden to trucking operators.

A spokesman says fuel retailers should purchase carbon permits and adjust the price of fuel accordingly, meaning any increase in the price of fuel can be passed on by operators under fuel levies.

The ATA raised concerns the Government may impose significant regulatory burdens on the industry if it did not include fuel in an emissions trading scheme, such as forcing the industry to upgrade to new engines or submit to onerous abatement measures which some operators may not be able to afford.

The discussion paper, to be followed by a policy paper in December this year, believes the upstream approach will be more effective in reaching the goal of 60 percent carbon reduction by 2050.

"No government has sufficient information to implement this [regulatory controls] comprehensively across the economy," the report says.

"Businesses and households are much better placed to know where they can reduce emissions at low cost."

In fact, the report argues imposing regulatory costs may actually have an adverse effect by constrain efforts to reduce emissions.

"Regulatory approaches alone are likely to increase overall abatement costs, making it more difficult to achieve an effective global response to climate change," the report says.

Under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, energy-intensive industries will be forced to buy permits to pollute. The Government will set a carbon threshold and permits will be handed out up to that limit.

Industries unable to reduce emissions will be forced to buy more permits from businesses capable of cutting their carbon output.

As part of the scheme, another bureaucratic department will be set up to assist businesses in transitioning to a low emissions economy. Wong says the Climate Change Action Fund will help businesses invest in low emissions processes, energy efficient projects with long-term loans and helping small to medium-sized businesses develop best practices.

In releasing the report, Wong told the National Press Club it was vital the Government taking urgent action to mitigate climate change.

"We confront a daunting reality; we cannot continue to pour carbon pollution into the atmosphere as if there is no cost," she says.

"As one of the hottest and direst continents on the earth, Australia’s economy and environment will be one of the hardest and fastest hit by climate change if we don’t act now."

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