09/07/2008 - 22:00

Mixed response for Garnaut

09/07/2008 - 22:00

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A Perth sustainability expert believes the potential business opportunities created under an emissions trading scheme (ETS) would outweigh the risk of crippling Australia's economy.

Mixed response for Garnaut

A Perth sustainability expert believes the potential business opportunities created under an emissions trading scheme (ETS) would outweigh the risk of crippling Australia's economy.

Commenting on last week's draft report by the government's chief climate change expert, Ross Garnaut, GHD principal sustainability professional Dr Chris Lund said Australia's shift to an ETS was not only inevitable, but potentially profitable.

"As in any major change in the economy there's risk and there's opportunity and the best thing to do when there's any kind of risk is to be well prepared...you can profit at the expense of others who are not prepared," Dr Lund said.

He said with the implementation of an ETS, likely to be in 2010, there was potential for a new breed of start-up companies, such as carbon offset generators, emissions advisory firms and carbon trading companies.

Dr Lund coordinates the Perth operating centre's sustainability services and assists companies in developing climate change and greenhouse gas emission strategies for their WA operations.

Earlier this year, climate change minister Penny Wong said carbon trading would be the most significant economic and structural reform undertaken in Australia since the trade liberalisation of the 1980s.

She said an ETS would benefit the economy and spur progress in production techniques, capital investment, and research and development.

Professor Garnaut has called for a permit system to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

He believes that about 20 per cent of the permit sales from the scheme, expected to generate billions for the economy, should be allocated to support research, development and commercialisation of new, low-emissions technologies.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA fears a carbon trading scheme could penalise trade-exposed emissions intensive industries like mining, which are driving the state's economy, and called for a delay in its implementation.

CCIWA chief executive James Pearson this week said the absence of detailed modelling of the costs and benefits of climate change made it difficult to fully evaluate the Garnaut report.

"Let's not score an economic home goal by penalising the export industries which are critical to WA's and the nation's economy," he said.

Shadow Treasurer Steve Thomas said the Garnaut report failed to identify the cost of an ETS to the state's households and industry, adding that Professor Garnaut was holding the "crucial information" until the final release on September 30.

"The draft report suggests that billions of dollars will be available for research and development, but is unclear on where it will be spent," he said in a statement.

Alcoa of Australia this week called for more detailed information.

In a written statement, managing director Alan Cransberg said Alcoa "continues to support an emissions trading scheme that delivers reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and does not compromise the international competitiveness of Australian industry."

"We believe in a sustainable solution, that means one that supports greenhouse solutions and Australian jobs," he said.

Director of Murdoch University's Research Institute for Sustainable Energy, Professor David Harries, said one of the upsides to tackling climate change was in fact the number of jobs that will be created.

"The main problem is going to be finding people to fill these new jobs," he said.

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