South Australia is looking at the option of launching a state emissions trade scheme in lieu of a federal carbon pricing policy and has received interest from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, InDaily reported Thursday.
The SA state government would prefer a national carbon market, but may choose a state-level option if new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull continues to back his predecessor’s Direct Action Plan, SA Environment Minister Ian Hunter told the Adelaide-based newswire.
“I sincerely hope his early pledge to stick with the derided ‘Direct Action’ policy makes way for a proper commitment, and that state-based schemes won’t be required,” Hunter said.
He added that feedback from other states had been positive.
“Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales have all indicated an interest to me,” he said.
Victoria Environment Minister Lisa Neville said in March her government was considering an ETS as one possible policy to meet the state’s revived climate target.
In June, Victoria appointed an expert panel headed by Baker & McKenzie’s Martijn Wilder, a carbon market veteran, to provide a list of recommendations by the end of year of policies that might be suitable for the state. Emissions trading is likely to be on that list.
South Australia’s Hunter said his team is looking at how the emissions market in California and Quebec works to get a clearer idea on what a state-based Australian CO2 scheme might look like.
Any state-based ETS, covering SA alone or several states, would most likely take at least two or three years to develop, and a Labor win in next year’s federal election would likely bring back a government eager to launch a national market.
The state-based ETS initiative, however, does put pressure on Prime Minister Turnbull, who has taken a lot of stick from the opposition since he was sworn in on Wednesday for what Labor and Greens MPs say is a “sell-out” of his stance on climate policies.
Meanwhile, on Thursday eight of Australia’s biggest companies, accounting for 12% of the nation’s total GHG emissions, called on the government to put in place an ambitious climate policy that would create certainty for investors.
“We support the bipartisan objective that international negotiations in Paris deliver a positive outcome to put the world on the path to limiting global temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius,” the statement said.
“We all acknowledge that achieving this will be challenging for Australia and all countries. But agreeing on a goal and a pathway to achieving this is critical and should not be delayed. The longer we wait, the harder it will be and the more it will cost us.”
The statement was signed by the CEOs of AGL, BHP Billiton, GE Australia, Mirvac, Santos, Unilever, Wesfarmers and Westpac.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org