Murray Griffin, Editor, Environmental Manager
In the debate over greenhouse gas emissions trading, it’s
worth remembering the scheme is supported by some large energy users and not as
strongly opposed by others as some might like to suggest.
Last year, a group representing the largest energy users in
NSW said it “would not be opposed to the establishment of a national emissions
trading scheme.” The submission by the Energy Markets Reform Forum – which has
members including Orica, Tomago Aluminium, and BHP
Billiton – was made in response to the NSW energy green paper.
Then there’s Rio Tinto, which has aluminium, coal and
uranium interests in Australia. Though its actions in Australia have not lived
up to its words, the company’s revised 2005 climate change position says it “will
engage with stakeholders to advocate for domestic and international government
policies that … utilise broad-based market mechanisms … As a tool to achieve a
specific emissions reduction target, emissions trading is preferred over carbon
taxes or inflexible on-site reduction requirements.”
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A company press release issued the previous year said “Rio
Tinto believes that market based instruments, including emissions trading,
offer the best chance for timely, effective and sustainable emissions
Meanwhile, 11 of the largest energy users in NSW voluntarily
participate in the NSW emissions trading regime known as the Greenhouse Gas
Abatement Scheme (GGAS). The 11 include BlueScope Steel, Boral, Amcor
Packaging, Norske Skog Paper Mills and Xstrata Coal Australia. Those companies
might not be in love with GGAS, but they have learned to live with it. And one
of them, Boral, was last year able to meet its scheme obligations almost
entirely through certificates created as a result of efficiency measures at one
of its cement kilns.
BP, Origin Energy and its colleagues on the Business
Roundtable on Climate Change earlier this year called for a carbon price
signal. And the Business Council of Australia has a neutral position on whether
Australia should ratify Kyoto, a move which would entail emissions trading.
When the politics are put aside and large energy users do
the maths, many find trading is a policy regime they can work with – and plenty
of them have also concluded it’s one that we need.