The Prime Ministerial Taskgroup on Emissions Trading delivers its report into a future Australian carbon trading system tomorrow, and they haven’t been working in a vacuum — corporate Australia has generously shared its views with the group. Here is a snapshot of their advice. (For the full context of each statement, click on the links provided.) 

Australian Aluminium Council. Page 4: Unless carefully designed, greenhouse policy interventions in Australia in advance of broad global action could affect the competitiveness of Australian trade-exposed energy-intensive industries.

Australian Forest Growers. Summary: Increasing access to native forests for sustainable forms of timber harvesting and a growing plantation establishment industry should be significant elements of an all encompassing emissions trading system that benefits the Australian economy.

Australian Industry Group. Ai Group is firmly of the view that the competitiveness of Australian business should be at the centre of considerations about the adoption of further regulatory measures to constrain greenhouse gas emissions.

Australian Trucking Association. Executive summary: The establishment of a workable domestic emissions trading scheme will, at best, impact marginally on global abatement efforts because Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are relatively small in proportion to aggregate global emissions.

Australian Conservation Foundation. Business is looking for investor certainty in the scheme. While some degree of certainty is desirable, it should not come at the expense of environmental integrity. If emissions are not reduced, a cost will be imposed with no benefit.

Australian Coal Association. Page 7: The coal industry is prepared to make an appropriate contribution to the development of low emissions technologies, provided the burden is shared equitably among the other beneficiaries of coal-based electricity. In the context of government funding support for RD&D, we point out the very significant contribution the industry already makes to federal and state revenues through taxes and royalties.

Babcock & Brown Power. Page 2: Any emissions trading scheme must adequately compensate existing participants for any loss in commercial value or asset value…In short, BBP is fully supportive of a National Emissions Trading regime but remains cautious as to the implementation of given its potential to detrimentally impact the asset value of our power generation business…

Bluescope Steel. Any [non-international] emissions trading scheme potentially compromises the competitiveness of Australia’s steel industry, an integral part of the domestic manufacturing sector.

Caltex Australia Limited. Page 2: Companies such as Caltex would be disproportionately disadvantaged by a domestic emission trading scheme as the overseas oil refineries that are our import competitors would not face carbon costs for their refinery emissions. Refineries are large users of energy and emitters of carbon dioxide.

ExxonMobil. Page 3: Given the potential economic costs and bureaucratic complexity associated with establishing an ETS scheme, it is ExxonMobil’s view that Australia needs to be cautious and not undermine its domestic economic performance and competitive advantages through unilateral action.

Minerals Council of Australia. Page iii: Australia must be part of the global response to climate change. But unilateral action will be ineffective in addressing climate change and may also cause undue damage to the Australian economy.

Qantas. Page 10: Consideration would need to be given to ensure competitive distortion is avoided in a domestic scheme. All operators into and out of Australia would need to be enveloped under the domestic scheme to ensure competitive alignment. For our industry that operates both domestically and internationally, financial impacts on one area of the business may impact the ability to respond to international competition.

Rio Tinto. Page 2: (U)ncertainty about the framework of GHG abatement policies affects the Group’s investments, operations and markets. Our businesses depend on international trade — confidence in the future behaviour of our markets in response to climate change is important to us.

Wesfarmers. Page 3: … we have been closely monitoring technological developments that would make a significant difference to emissions of nitrous oxide which result from the production of nitric acid at our CSBP operations. There is the potential to reduce such emissions by up to 90%. While the technology relating to the installation of an abatement catalyst is not yet sufficiently proven, there is little doubt that adopting a price signal mechanism would accelerate work in this area.

Westpac. Page 4: Without a clearly articulated policy response to the issues associated with climate change, the nature or quantifiable impact of ‘climate risk exposure’ remains highly variable between companies and across industries. This is delaying or hampering required investment in next generation assets and increasing costs to the economy due to the higher risk premium required by investors in the absence of a policy setting.

Peter Fray

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