It is clear from the minister’s briefing last night that the main purpose of National’s changes to the ETS is to make us effectively the seventh state of Australia. The bill mimics exactly the bill the Rudd government has been trying (unsuccessfully) to get through the Australian senate. So a bill that has been twice rejected by the Australian parliament is good enough for us.
None of the ETS amendments have anything to do with reducing climate change emissions. They are about progressing foreign, trade and industrial growth policies – strengthening CER towards a full common market, and encouraging growth in energy intensive industries.
The measures in the Bill which are copied from the Australian draft legislation include:
- free allocations based on output so that the more you grow your pollution the more free allocation you get;
- free allocation based on 90% or 60% of the industry average emissions per million dollars of output;
- the industry average is the Australasian average, not the world average;
- adopting the Australian definition of “trade-exposed” which is what qualifies a firm for free allocation;
- a cap on the price of emissions until 2013 which is effectively $12.50 a tonne (Australia is A$10) when the world price is currently around $26
- a 2 year delay for agriculture to 2015 – the date Australia may bring in agriculture itself;
- phasing out free allocations to industry at Australia’s 1.3% a year rather than 8% in the existing NZ scheme;
- use of Australian data and benchmarking wherever possible.
Funny how this is so easy when aligning with an Australian standard on light bulb efficiency was so hard.