Australia’s main opposition party will bring a promise to establish an emissions trading scheme to the next election, and is considering a link with international carbon markets, a leaked discussion paper showed Wednesday.
The internal document, which outlined a draft climate change policy for Labor and was leaked to News Corp. media, showed the party is considering an emissions trading scheme for the electricity sector and a separate carbon pricing mechanism for other sectors.
The document recommended that “Labor will introduce an ETS in the first term of government … consistent with South Korea and among China’s provinces and Labor’s ETS will be internationally linked”, wrote the Daily Telegraph.
The reports were thin on details, but suggested that in the first phase of the scheme, running through 2019, emitters would face limited costs but would be forced to buy international offsets if they exceeded their caps.
Labor would then revise the scheme during its first term in power, and introduce tougher targets from 2020 onwards.
The ETS would be accompanied by other measures on energy efficiency and renewables.
Labor’s climate change spokesman, Mark Butler, stressed that the proposals were not final, but confirmed the party still aims to set up a carbon market.
“Our climate change action will include clean energy and an ETS, as we have been saying for 12 months. We will not introduce a carbon tax,” he said on Twitter.
While Labor’s plan to set up an ETS has been well known for a while, government ministers accused it of attempting to secretly reintroduce the carbon tax, which was abolished last year.
“They’ve been caught red-handed, their hands are in the till, in the power bills of Australian families,” said Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has until January 2017 to call the next election, but as the popularity of the ruling Coalition has grown in recent weeks, there is some speculation he might call it earlier.
By Stian Reklev – email@example.com