First car­bon auc­tion to help Aussie gov’t meet pledge: of­fi­cials

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Australia Thurs­day said its plan to pay pol­luters to re­duce car­bon emis­sions blamed for cli­mate change was off to a good start and would help the na­tion be­come a “world leader” in meet­ing pledges to tackle green­house gases.

The con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment axed a con­tro­ver­sial tax on green­house gas emis­sions last year as part of an elec­tion pledge, re­plac­ing it with a so-called “di­rect ac­tion” plan that in­cluded pay­ing com­pa­nies to in­crease en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and not pol­lute.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Greg Hunt hailed the “stunning re­sult” from the first auc­tion un­der the plan, which saw the gov­ern­ment spend AU$660 mil­lion ( US$510 mil­lion) of a AU$2.55 bil­lion fund to pur­chase 47 mil­lion tonnes of car­bon abate­ment. The av­er­age price per tonne was AU$13.95. Com­pa­nies who ex­changed con­tracts in­cluded those run­ning land­fill projects and car­bon farm­ing. Lo­cal me­dia re­ports said big­ger pol­luters were wait­ing to see how suc­cess­ful the first auc­tion was be­fore po­ten­tially tak­ing part in fu­ture bids.

Hunt said the suc­cess of the auc­tion meant Australia was “in­cred­i­bly well placed to not just meet but beat” its com­mit­ment to lower green­house gas emis­sions by five per­cent of 2000 lev­els by 2020.

“We will be in a po­si­tion to be a world leader in hav­ing achieved the first and sec­ond rounds of our in­ter­na­tional obligations (to re­duce car­bon emis­sions),” he told re­porters. “There are very few coun­tries that can say that.” Last month, Hunt said Australia needed to save some 236 mil­lion tonnes be­tween 2013 and 2020.

Con­ser­va­tion group WWF-Australia wel­comed the abate­ments that were pur­chased, say­ing the coun­try needed to do its part to con­tain global warm­ing.

“How­ever we re­main con­cerned that on its own the (fund) will not achieve the level of pol­lu­tion cuts needed now and in the fu­ture,” WWF-Australia’s cli­mate change na­tional manager Kel­lie Caught said in a state­ment to AFP.

“(We) call for the gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment a mech­a­nism to put a price and limit on car­bon pol­lu­tion.”

With its use of coal-fired power and rel­a­tively small pop­u­la­tion of 23 mil­lion, Australia is one of the world’s worst per capita green­house gas pol­luters.

Crit­ics have said the coun­try’s five per­cent emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get should be in­creased as it lagged be­hind other coun­tries such as the United States, where the tar­get is a 17 per­cent re­duc­tion on 2005 lev­els by 2020.

Australia is seek­ing public com­ment on what its post-2020 emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get should be ahead of a cru­cial United Na­tions cli­mate meet­ing in Paris later this year.

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