While the Federal Government has now committed to an emissions cap and trade scheme to be established by 2012, it will not announce a long-term target for cutting emissions until next year.
AI Group recognised the report offers a way forward that reflects Australia’s particular circumstances and seeks to position the country in the global climate change effort. But chief executive Heather Ridout also said a yet to be published study of AI Group members indicated a widespread lack of understanding of the complexity of implementing the proposed changes.
“Some 85% of companies surveyed as part of this study indicated they had little understanding of emissions trading schemes and the systemic impacts of measures to address climate change,” she said.
Ridout added the cost of the scheme “should not be under-estimated, particularly when Australia’s key competitors will not be subject to them”
One of the key recommendations from the task group was for Australia to implement a trading scheme without waiting for the rest of the world, but allowing compatibility with any future international scheme.
Both the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has commended the proposal, with MCA chief executive Mitchell Hooke saying not only is there a need for new abatement technologies but also removing a strong element of investment uncertainty hanging over the business community.
“Business confidence is best served by certainty in a policy framework that enables the Australian Government to set the parameters of the scheme as scientific, technological and environmental circumstances change – and as business is able to respond to the dictates of the market-based trading scheme,” he said.
The ACF urged the government and the Opposition to set science-based emissions reduction targets for 2020 as well as 2050, and implement emissions trading by 2010.
While it welcomed the recommendation for Australia to go it alone on an emission trading scheme, ACF executive director Don Henry said the report was too cautious on the question of setting targets.
“The absence of science-based targets for reducing emissions is a glaring omission from the task group’s plan,” he said.
“The science is in, the economics is in – there is no excuse for Australia not to set 2050 and 2020 targets to substantially cut our greenhouse emissions.”