Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A landmark on the road to emissions trading

Australia will move closer to the development of an emissions trading system this morning with the release of a report intended to kick off debate.

The Emissions Trading Taskforce set up by the Prime Minister late last year will release a 9-page issues paper outlining the questions that it wants addressed in public submissions due in one month’s time.

Neither the Prime Minister nor the Environment Minister have been given advance notice of what is in the report.

The Canberra Times understands that it will call for comments on how widespread a global trading system would need to be to make it workable, whether Australia could adopt a domestic emissions trading scheme in the absence of a global scheme, and whether there is a case for Australia contributing its expertise to an international system of monitoring and verifying emissions... .

The report will not outline any particular position developed by the joint government-business taskforce, instead it will outline the issues that it believes it need to develop a position on.

The 12-person taskforce is headed by Dr Peter Shergold, the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Other high-profile members include the head of the Treasury Dr Ken Henry, Peter Coates of the mining company Xstrata, , the Managing Director of the National Australia Bank John Stewart and the Chairman of Qantas Margaret Jackson.

Some of the taskforce will head overseas next week to consult with people running emissions trading schemes in Europe and the US.

After earlier opposing a carbon trading scheme the Prime Minister has warmed to the idea in recent months, saying on Monday that “market mechanisms including carbon pricing will be integral to any long-term response to climate change”.