May 15, 2009
Australia increased concessions for big polluters and delayed the start date of its emissions trading scheme (ETS) because of the global financial crisis, in a stark shift on climate policy.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the deepening global recession meant local emissions trading could not begin until July 2011, one year later than previously planned. In a concession to green groups, Rudd said Australia would cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent of 2000 levels by 2020 -- up from 15 percent previously. But, he said the revised target would only apply if world leaders also signed up to an ambitious reduction goal in Copenhagen in December. Without an agreement, Australia's target will remain unchanged at 5 percent.
"The worst global recession since the Great Depression means we must adapt our climate change measures but not abandon them," Rudd told reporters. "The start date of the carbon pollution reduction scheme will be delayed one year to commence from July 1, 2011."
In Australia, Asa Wahlquist reported to The Australian Online that, "Agriculture would be the industry hardest hit if it were to be included in the ETS," according to a report by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.
The report, prepared by the Center for International Economics, estimates for the first time the cost of the ETS on individual farms. It found there would be cost increases for all sectors, with livestock the worst hit.
Australia accounts for 1.3 percent of global carbon emissions and Australian agriculture just 16 percent of that 1.3 percent. Policy needs to be measured and in line with a global response, yet the latest research "starkly exposes how climate change policy can be far more damaging for our farmers than climate change itself," he said.
Farm cash income for the average Australian sheep farm would fall by 45 percent at a carbon price of A$25 per ton or 78 percent at a carbon price of A$50 per ton.
The report further added that even if agriculture were not included in the ETS, it would still face higher costs for inputs such as petroleum, electricity, chemicals and other good and services.
Reprinted in part from AFP Australia