Friday, November 22, 2019

Climate Change: Submit!

The Environment Committee has called for submissions on the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill. Submissions are due by Friday, 17 January 2020, and can be made online at the link above.

The bill makes a number of changes to the ETS, including linking it to the carbon budget framework in the Zero Carbon Act. It also brings agriculture into the scheme in 2025 and continues to subsidise it for a century after that, while continuing free industrial allocation for another four decades. It also includes another secrecy clause for the auction monitor, because the government does not trust the withholding provisions of the OIA, despite them working well for almost 40 years. I urge people to submit specifically to ask that:

  • Agricultural emissions be brought into the ETS immediately, with an identical free allocation and phase-out regime to industrial emissions;
  • The free allocation baselines for industrial emissions be reduced to 82% and 52% respectively to align them with present levels, and that these free allocations be phased out within a decade;
  • If the free allocation baseline is not reduced, then the allocation regime needs to be amended to prevent industrial polluters getting windfall credits for previous years;
  • Carbon prices are up against the price cap, so the carbon price needs to rise. The fixed price option should be immediately raised to $50, and by $25 a year thereafter, so that prices can find their true level (this will become irrelevant in 2023, when the cost-containment reserve kicks in);
  • The secrecy clause in s30GF and 30GG should be removed, as the OIA is sufficient;
  • The secrecy clause in s99 of the Act should be amended in accordance with the Ombudsman's advice on the issue given to the committee when hearing the Zero Carbon Act.

The current bill favours polluters and farmers while keeping carbon prices low. Which is exactly the opposite of what we need at this stage of the climate crisis. Instead, we need prices to rise, and for farmers and polluters to face the full prices of their emissions. That's how economic instruments are meant to work, and the government's continued subsidies undermines any chance of real emissions reductions.