10/09/2008 - 22:00

Mixed reaction to emissions report

10/09/2008 - 22:00

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THE resources sector has not been reassured by Ross Garnaut's latest report on a national emissions trading scheme, despite the 10 per cent reduction target by 2020 being labelled too low by environmental groups.

Mixed reaction to emissions report

THE resources sector has not been reassured by Ross Garnaut's latest report on a national emissions trading scheme, despite the 10 per cent reduction target by 2020 being labelled too low by environmental groups.

Professor Garnaut has linked his central recommendation of a 10 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2010, rising to 80 per cent by 2050, to a comprehensive global agreement.

In the absence of an international agreement, the report proposes that Australia commit to an emissions reduction target of 5 per cent by 2020, which is in line with the federal government's 60 per cent by 2050 emissions target.

Professor Garnaut has recommended that permits be sold at $20 a tonne, rising 4 per cent each year plus CPI during the 2010-2012 transition period, with the carbon price expected to settle at about $23/t by 2013.

According to the Garnaut-Treasury modelling, the cost to Australia of mitigation would be between 1.1 and 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product.

But Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Mitchell Hooke said a 10 per cent national emissions reduction target by 2020 would be extremely difficult to achieve, given that it represented a 30 per cent reduction on a business-as-usual basis.

He said this amounted to a reduction in the order of 210 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020, which was equivalent to the current emissions from Australia's entire electricity generation sector.

"Put simply, meeting this target without significant technological breakthroughs is akin to moving Australia to a candles economy," Mr Hooke said in a statement.

Alcoa environment and sustainable development manager, Tim McAuliffe, said the company supported Professor Garnaut's international view of an emissions trading scheme.

He said the company also supported Professor Garnaut's acknowledgement that an Australian scheme must be realistic until a global scheme is in place.

"The Australian emissions trajectory should not include aggressive cuts in the national cap ahead of international competitors to ensure Australian industries are not compromised to the detriment of our economy, jobs, or environmental effectiveness," Mr McAuliffe said.

WA Sustainable Energy Association chief executive Ray Wills said that, although he would have preferred to see a higher target, the logic behind starting with lower targets to be increased over time, so that the scheme was more inclusive, was sensible.

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