Carbon tax law to embed Australia’s global pledge

LEGISLATION establishing the carbon tax will enshrine Australia’s international commitments to limit global warming to 2C and give the new Climate Change Authority discretion to set an overall limit by 2050 on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Australian understands the legislation, to be introduced into parliament tomorrow by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, will enshrine in law Australia’s pledge to a global effort to limit temperature rise to 2C by 2050.

The figure had not been specifically mentioned in draft bills circulated for comment.

The move will keep pressure on future governments to increase the ambition of cuts to Australia’s emissions. Australia is currently committed to a cut of 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 but a global agreement limiting temperature rise to 2C would increase pressure to lift that target.

The Garnaut review found Australia’s “fair share” under a global agreement to hold temperature increases below 2C would be a 25 per cent reduction below 2000 levels by 2020.

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While the government is understood to have resisted making any dramatic changes, it has tweaked some elements of the 13 bills after submissions from industry and environmental groups.

Last week, The Australian reported that Mr Combet had ordered changes to the legislation to give the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator the power to review and suspend a company’s ability to trade in renewable energy certificates if there were doubts about its solvency or conduct.

The decision comes in the wake of the collapse of small-scale renewable energy certificate trader WellBeingGreen, which left more than 100 solar installers and householders unpaid.

Debate on the bills is expected to start this week but a joint parliamentary inquiry is likely to be established to run alongside the parliamentary debate.

The government wants the carbon tax bills through the lower house by the middle of next month before they will be introduced into the Senate and passed by Christmas. Debate is expected to be postponed if the Coalition seeks to the delay the vote.

Supporters of the legislation are planning shows of support in Canberra this week while opponents — including the industry alliance that has been campaigning against the carbon tax — are expected to increase the frequency of their advertising campaign and expand it from television to radio.

The Climate Institute has mailed to every MP a list of five myths about climate change — declaring that Australia is the world’s 15th-largest emitter of carbon pollution and other countries are acting to cut emissions.

Under the changes to the bills, the Climate Change Authority will be given scope to use a carbon budgeting approach — taking into account the total quantity of greenhouse gas emissions emitted in Australia from 1990 to 2050.

Under this approach if emissions were higher than expected in early years, tougher cuts would have to be implemented to ensure that the total emissions budget was not exceeded by 2050.

Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt said nine weeks after the package had been released, the government was yet to produce modelling based on the $23 a tonne carbon price, instead of $20.


About Darin Sullivan (1980 Articles)
Former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (2009-2018) and a professional firefighter with more than 30 years experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a former Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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