CPRS could pass under Greens deal

WITH another Senate showdown over the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme expected next week, the Australian Greens party is proposing amendments to pass the legislation.

Staff Reporter

The five Greens senators voted against the CPRS twice last year but their numbers, along with the support of two other non-Labor senators, will be enough to push the scheme through.

Under the bid to “break the CPRS deadlock”, the main proposal is an interim $20 per tonne fixed carbon price for the first two years of the scheme under its existing structure.

The minor party also seeks to prevent the use of international offsets as international trading will not be possible under its proposed interim period.

The Greens want the scheme to “be in surplus rather than deficit in the first two years” and to start on July 1.

Without providing details, the Greens also propose to “recycle revenue to support household, commercial, industrial and transport emissions reductions”

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown said the interim scheme would give certainty to increasingly impatient investors and would direct billions of dollars to Australia's households instead of “paying polluters”

"If we can get broad, cross-party support for this proposal, it will show both investors and global negotiators that Australia is serious about tackling the climate crisis," he said.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said she was prepared to discuss the Greens proposals, the Australian reported last week.

While the Liberal-National coalition is largely opposed to the CPRS, Liberal senators Judith Troeth and Sue Boyce both supported the scheme last year, indicating a Greens deal with Labor could get it passed.

The Greens previously criticised the CPRS for not going far enough to reduce carbon emissions.

Liberal leader Tony Abbott views the CPRS as an energy taxation scheme and said last year he was not frightened of an election on the issue.

ACIL Tasman, Concept Economics and Access Economics have all predicted the loss of thousands of coal mining jobs under the scheme.

ACIL’s report forecast 3300 job losses by 2021, Concept Economics expects 9040 by 2020, and Access Economics predicted 6470 jobs would go from the black coal sector.

The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union disputes these numbers, using findings from consultancy McLennan Magasanik Associates to forecast 10,000-16,000 more coal mining jobs in 2020 with the CPRS in place.

Last year Anglo American warned of mine closures under the scheme while Macarthur Coal chairman Keith De Lacy said the scheme would have a great impact on the company’s competitiveness and viability.

Open cut coal mines have never had to test for gas emissions before, which will present technical challenges in meeting the scheme’s requirements.

The Coal and the Commonwealth study, commissioned by Peabody Energy and edited by University of Queensland professors Peter Knights and Michael Hood, also raised concerns that major coal consumers such as China might seek cheaper and more polluting coal under the CPRS.

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