Australia’s main opposition party will on Wednesday pledge a tougher emissions target and present a carbon market plan that would potentially drive demand for millions of international credits by domestic industry.
In a climate policy package distributed in advance to national media, the Labor party will pledge to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, well below the current Coalition government’s promise of a 26-28% reduction.
Recent opinion polls show the two parties are running almost equal, though Coalition leader and current PM Malcolm Turnbull appears to be more popular among voters than Labor leader Bill Shorten.
As part of the measures to hit the target, Labor would introduce a national emissions trading scheme from July 1, 2018.
While most of the scheme’s details would be hammered out after a Labor election win, the main elements include access to international offsets for industrials, but not for electricity generators:
- Australia’s coal-dominated electricity industry would have a separate ETS with no access to the international market, forcing coal-fired generators to buy domestic allowances from cleaner fuel sources.
- Until 2020, manufacturers facing international competition would be able to meet their entire obligation using foreign credits, which could cost as little as A$0.03 per tonne, climate spokesman Mark Butler told Fairfax media.
- Other sectors would be allowed to use international units to cover an as-yet undecided share of their obligation.
The previous Labor government under former PM Julia Gillard introduced a carbon price in Australia in 2012. But the fixed price starting at A$25/tonne eventually led to Gillard’s downfall and the Coalition’s victory in the 2013 elections.
The federal election is likely to take place on July 2, although PM Turnbull has yet to confirm that date.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org