Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday dismissed as a “scam” the opposition Labor party’s proposal to introduce an emissions trading scheme to cut the country’s GHG output and increase the share of renewables in the energy mix to 50% by 2030.
Labor’s annual conference over the weekend adopted the renewable target – a huge increase from the 23% planned by 2020 – and the plan to take an ETS to the next national election.
But the prime minister, who ran an intense and successful anti-carbon tax campaign ahead of the last election, was not forthcoming.
“The ETS that Labor keeps talking about might as well be called an electricity tax scam because that’s what it is, an electricity tax scam that will be scamming the consumers of Australia for years and years and decades if it was to be put in place,” Abbott told reporters in Canberra.
Australia is expected to announce its post-2020 emissions target in August, but after Labor’s plan to introduce an ETS was leaked to media earlier this month, the climate debate in Australia – which was always more political than factual – has degenerated into a fight over whether or not an ETS is the same as a tax.
Abbott’s comments on Monday will do little to stop that, but the PM also took issue with Labor’s 50% renewable target.
“Renewables do have an important part to play in our power sector. But frankly, at 23%, that’s more than enough,” he said, raising questions over how the coal-dependent nation intends to decarbonise its economy over the next decades.
Abbott said Labor’s plan would cause a “massive overbuild of wind farms” and said the plan would cost A$60 billion ($43.8 bln) or more. He did not clarify how that number had been calculated, but The Age newspaper later reported the number was based on a calculation made by Paul Hyslop, chief executive of ACIL Allen Consulting.
Speaking to The Guardian, Hyslop said:
“It would be much more sensible to have an economy-wide carbon price to meet a new emissions reduction target rather than just focus on the electricity sector.”
“The reason an ETS is so powerful is that everyone faces a cost … the problem with Direct Action is that it doesn’t curb the behaviour of the people who aren’t involved in it.”
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org