Australia may be heading for emissions trading between big polluters

19 August 2022

Associate Professor Ian MacKenzie writes for The Conversation

Could Australia soon have a form of emissions trading? Yes, if Labor’s much-anticipated paper on fixing Australia’s mediocre emissions-reduction framework, released today, is any guide.

At present, Australia relies on the controversial safeguard mechanism to encourage big emitters such as fossil fuel power plants and manufacturers to reduce their pollution. This framework – alongside the Emissions Reduction Fund – was introduced during the Coalition years to reduce carbon dioxide pollution at low cost.

The problem is, it didn’t work. Emissions from large polluters have remained high since it was introduced in 2016. As the discussion paper states:

Emissions limits, known as baselines, have allowed business-as-usual operations and aggregate emissions from Safeguard facilities to grow.

Labor’s discussion paper flags ways to make the mechanism work as intended – most significantly by letting companies sell credits created by cutting emissions by more than they are required to. Companies finding it harder to slash emissions can buy these. Creating this market would effectively create a very useful carbon currency.

You might think this sounds abstract. It’s not. Fixing this mechanism would have a major impact on our future emissions – and the likelihood of reaching our committed emission goals. Getting this right matters.

Read the full article at The Conversation


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