Data ac­cess a new car­bon chal­lenge Fired up by pric­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - National Snapshot -

THE dif­fi­culty of es­ti­mat­ing ef­fec­tive car­bon prices in other coun­tries could weaken the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to com­pen­sate big pol­luters ac­cu­rately.

The Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion has been asked to es­ti­mate the ef­fec­tive price faced by elec­tric­ity, man­u­fac­tur­ing and trans­port in­dus­tries in coun­tries in­clud­ing the United King­dom, the USA, China and Ja­pan.

The data will be used to work out how much com­pen­sa­tion Aus­tralian com­pa­nies should re­ceive un­der an emis­sions trad­ing scheme.

But in a work­ing pa­per re­leased yes­ter­day, the com- mis­sion notes that ‘‘ ac­cess­ing data is prov­ing par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing’’ for some trad­ing part­ners.

Quizzed about this is­sue, gov­ern­ment cli­mate change ad­viser Ross Gar­naut ac­knowl­edged there were ‘‘ con­cep­tual and data is­sues’’ to be sorted out.

But he said the com­mis­sion was do­ing a good job and the com­par­a­tive prices should be ready to roll by 2015.

That’ s when he wants gen­er­ousass is­tancefo r emis­sions-in­ten­sive, trade­ex­posed in­dus­tries to be wound back and com­par­a­tive com­pen­sa­tion to be­gin.

De­ter­min­ing a com­peti­tor’s ef­fec­tive car­bon price would re­quire lots of re­sources, but the task was worth it to avoid ‘‘ po­ten­tial se­ri­ous dis­tor­tion of the Aus­tralian econ­omy and the in­tegrity of our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem’’, Prof Gar­naut told re­porters.

The econ­o­mist re­leased the sev­enth up­date of his land­mark 2008 cli­mate change re­view ear­lier yes­ter­day.

Prof Gar­naut wants Aus­tralia to dou­ble its ex­pected ex­pen­di­ture on new lowe­mis­sions tech­nolo­gies to $ 2.5 bil­lion an­nu­ally by 2017.

Fund­ing would then plateau un­til 2022 be­fore grad­u­ally de­clin­ing.

The up­date states that pric­ing car­bon will drive in­no­va­tion, but ‘‘ on its own it will not in­crease it by enough’’.

That’s be­cause the mar­ket doesn’t al­ways sup­port re­search and de­vel­op­ment ad­e­quately – hence the need for gov­ern­ment sup­port. ProfGar­naut’sstrong views weren’t ap­pre­ci­ated at an anti-car­bon tax rally out­side par­lia­ment house in Can­berra.

When his name was men­tioned, the plac­ard-wav­ing crowd booed long and loud.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Tony Ab­bott had pre­vi­ously told the rally, dom­i­nated by re­tirees who’d trav­elled from Syd­ney, that there needed to be an in­tel­li­gent re­sponse to cli­mate change ‘‘ not just a great big new tax’’.

He s ai d t he r al­lyrep­re­sented a snapshot of mid­dle Aus­tralia which was rightly con­cerned that pric­ing car­bon would send jobs off­shore.

Reg­u­lar chants of ‘‘ liar, l i ar, l i ar’’ were di­rected t o wards Pri me Min­ist e r Ju­lia Gil­lard, along with the nas­tier ‘‘ ditch the bitch’’.

Greens spokes woman Christine Milne said it was dis­ap­point­ing to see sex­ist plac­ards as well.

‘‘ It’s about time we had a ma­ture dis­cus­sion in Aus­tralian pol­i­tics that didn’t stoop to the den­i­gra­tion of fe­male par­lia­men­tar­i­ans,’’ the Tas­ma­nia sen­a­tor said in a state­ment.

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