Emissions trading 'will increase cost of trucks'

<font color=red><b>EXCLUSIVE:</b></font> Nats Senator says operators will suffer under emissions trading; vows to vote down scheme

By Brad Gardner | November 17, 2009

Trucking operators will be hit with taxes on new equipment and higher fuel charges if emissions trading is introduced, Nationals Senator John Williams claims.

Williams has vowed to vote against the Rudd Government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), which passed the House of Representatives and will now be debated in the Senate.

If passed the CPRS will force companies to purchase permits to pollute. Williams says this manufacturers will increase the cost of new vehicles as a result.

"Kenworth would have a huge power bill in Melbourne," Williams says of the company’s Bayswater plant.

"The cost of purchasing a truck is going to go up; the cost of fuel is going to go up."

Transport has been included in the CPRS but fuel retailers will be responsible for buying permits and then passing the cost onto the industry.

The Government will cut 1 cent from the excise for every cent increase to fuel due to emissions trading for one year for the heavy vehicle industry and three years for motorists.

Williams has questioned the point of introducing emissions trading ahead of the world’s leading emitters, the United States and China.

He says the scheme will do little to cut emissions and claims the market-based trading approach will not benefit the environment.

"This is just a field day for brokers, banks and dealers," he says.

"This is simply a tax and the transport industry is going to be one of the industries that will cop it."

Williams’ comments contradict those made by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), which claims the CPRS is in the best interests of the industry.

"The alternative to emissions trading is more regulation in the form of stringent engine requirements or attempts to force our customers to transport their freight by rail or sea, even if those transport modes do not meet their business requirements," a spokesman for the ATA said earlier this year.

"The only effect of the scheme on most trucking companies will be to increase the price of diesel after July 2011, because the industry will receive a special credit during the first year of the scheme."

The ATA also criticised the Senate’s decision earlier this year to reject the scheme.

ATA Chairman Trevor Martyn says reducing emissions can also be achieved by granting higher productivity vehicles such as B-triples more access to the road network.

The Government’s White Paper on the CPRS says transport must be included in an emissions trading scheme because it contributes 14 percent of the country’s emissions, with road transport responsible for 90 percent of that figure.

The paper argues that increases to fuel prices will encourage the development of new cleaner technologies and force fuel users to reduce their demand on the resource.

However, Williams says companies are already developing new technologies in response to rising oil prices.

He is also sceptical of the science behind global warming.

He says there were droughts long before the introduction of coal-fired power plants and that the climate will continue to change regardless of what the Government does.

"We’ve had climate change for millions of years," he says.

But in a series of radio interviews yesterday Minister for Climate Change Penny Wong says the science cannot be refuted.

"…the weight of scientific opinion is clearly that human activity is contributing to climate change," Wong told 2GB’s Ray Hadley.

She accused climate change sceptics of trying to block action on climate change.

"They’ve either scare mongered, they’ve denied the science or they’ve delayed this for years," Wong says.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the 11 of the last 12 years from 1995 to 2006 were the warmest on record.

In its report, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, the panel says "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" based on the increase in air and ocean temperatures, melting of snow and ice and rising sea levels.

The Coalition is divided on emissions trading, with the Nationals and some Liberals refusing to support it.

The Greens have also opposed the Government’s plan because they do not think it does enough to address climate change.
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