‘Flawed’ emissions trading scheme needs big changes: Andrew Robb
Christian Kerr | April 30, 2009
THE Coalition today ruled out supporting the emissions trading scheme in its current form, calling for the Government to analyse the “flawed” plan’s effect on jobs and to consider alternatives.
But the Opposition’s emissions trading spokesman Andrew Robb left the door open to allowing the ETS to pass through the Senate.
“No one is saying it’s all or nothing,” Mr Robb said, releasing a Coalition-commissioned analysis of the Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
“What we are saying go right back and do the work, fix up the flaws, do not put in jeopardy tens of thousands of Australian jobs, especially at a time when we’ve got the biggest financial crisis in 80 years,” he said.
The analysis, prepared by David Pearce from the Centre for International Economics, warns that the Government has failed to adequately assess the level of environmental benefits the CPRS will achieve for its cost, its ability to deal with uncertainty and whether it explicitly accounts for international developments.
Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Greg Combet effectively conceded yesterday that the Government will have to deal with the Coalition to pass the CPRS.
He said the Greens had “made themselves irrelevant” with demands that amounted to “lunacy”.
Mr Robb said the CIE report “clearly establishes that the design of the Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme needs to be reconsidered and compared empirically with alternatives.
“For the Government to have ignored the impact of the global financial crisis beggars belief,” he said.
“The costs over the next 20 years of lost competitiveness and lost jobs must be established, along with the likely impact, or not, on CO2 emissions.”
Mr Robb accused the Government of “flying blind” on both the risk to jobs and emissions reductions.
“The Rudd Government has no idea of how many jobs its scheme will destroy, how it affects different industries or regions, or even whether it is the most cost-effective option for Australia to reduce CO2 emissions.
“Constructive alternatives to the Government’s flawed scheme are necessary. As well as reviewing the carbon pricing mechanism, energy efficiencies in the commercial building sector, carbon capture in soil and other means, and the efforts of individuals, must be part of an effective scheme.”
Mr Robb said the Government’s CPRS will destroy jobs.
“What the Pearce report confirms is that the Government has done no analysis, no analysis of what will be the transitional affects on businesses of their scheme,” he said.
“The only work out there at the moment about what will happen to jobs is the work that has been commissioned by all of these companies who are very fearful about the circumstance and their future and about future investment and the viability of their businesses.”
The report recommends that the Government ask the Productivity Commission to carry out this research.
The Opposition seems no closer to a policy position on emissions trading despite the release of the report.
“The Coalition will finalise its policy response once we’ve seen the results of the current Senate inquiries and following analysis of this report,” Mr Robb said.
Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull’s office was unable to say if he would be commenting publicly on the Pearce report today.
Coalition sources have suggested that Mr Turnbull will face major challenges in finding a policy path Liberals and Nationals will follow.
Divisions over emissions trading and climate change policy dealt the final blow to the leadership of his predecessor, Brendan Nelson.