Australasia, Coal Fired

Australian government looks to reward efforts to curb emissions

Tony Abbott’s Australian government is attempting a different approach to curbing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Australia is to focus on rewards rather than penalties to slow greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a government blueprint for a new climate policy proposed to start this year.

Abbott, who wants to get rid of an existing levy on emitters, unveiled final details today for an Emissions Reduction Fund with as much as $2.6bn to help firms lower Australia’s emissions, the highest per capita in the developed world.
Tony Abbott
In a move that will have implications for the country’s fossil fuel power generators, the government will wait until next year to consider consequences for emitters going over their historical baselines, and no more than 130 of the largest polluters would be bound by this “safeguard mechanism.”

The new policy will contribute to “global action on climate change, but without a costly and ineffective carbon tax,” Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Canberra. “What the Emissions Reduction Fund will do is help drive private-sector investment into practical actions, such as cleaning up waste coal-mine gas.”

The government hopes that the plan is an adequate response to climate change, which poses “an immediate threat to Australia’s society and economy,” the United Nations said in a report last month.

Abbott’s called his election victory a mandate to eliminate the Carbon Price Mechanism that Labor enacted in 2011. The policy imposed the world’s highest carbon levy on Australia’s largest emitters.

Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition has budgeted funds to start its Emissions Reduction Fund as part of the Direct Action policy on July 1. That means the program could start regardless of whether the opposition Labor or Palmer United parties try to block legislation in the Senate.

Bloomberg reports that the government selected more than a dozen industry and academic officials to help finalize policy details. They received more than 600 submissions in response to initial papers in October and December. It will wait until July 2015 to establish baselines to help determine which emitters are exceeding industry averages, according to the paper.

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