Wong releases detailed emissions trading timetable

Federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has announced the Australian Government’s detailed timetable for introduction of emissions trading. “The introduction of emissions trading will constitute the most significant economic and structural reform undertaken in Australia since the trade liberalisation of the 1980s,” Senator Wong says.

“The Rudd Government will take a careful and methodical approach to finalising the design of emissions trading, to get the best results for our climate while minimising the risks for our economy,” she says.

The timetable includes four phases of consultation on key design and implementation issues.

“Consultation is a key part of our methodical approach. An important step will be the release of a Green Paper in early July 2008, to encourage the community and industry to continue offering their ideas on the design and implementation of the scheme,” says Wong.

“I want to assure industry that the views they have already expressed will be taken into account when formulating our policy positions.

“We are also consulting the States and Territories through a working group of the Council of Australian Governments,” she says.

Consultation has begun with the convening of two roundtables involving peak industry and other non-government organisations in early March.

The Green Paper will canvass options and preferred approaches on issues, such as which industry sectors will be covered and how emission caps will be set.

It will also include ways to address the impacts of emissions trading on Australian households, emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries and other strongly affected sectors.

The second phase of public consultation will focus on the Green Paper and will occur from early July to early September 2008. A further phase will follow the release of the emission trading legislation in December 2008.

The design of emissions trading will also be informed by economic modelling work being undertaken by the Australian Treasury, the work of the Garnaut Review, and the work done to date at the Federal, State and Territory levels.

“The Government will continue to seek input from the public, industry and nongovernment groups to ensure emissions trading gets the best results at the least cost,” Senator Wong says.

Emissions trading is central to achieving the Government’s goal of reducing Australia’s greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

“The cost of carbon under the emissions trading scheme will be determined by the market, because we will set a level of emissions, we will have permits up to that level and the market will trade and the market will set the price,” says Wong.

“Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol means that we do have a target for up to 2012, but we need a mid-term target and we have said we will set that after we consider the economic modelling that I have discussed, after we consider Professor Garnaut’s report and we will set that towards the end of the year,” she says.

“We are determined to undertake this reform as carefully and as methodically as is possible,” says Wong.