The resources sector has flagged another showdown with the federal government, this time over the possible introduction of a price on carbon emissions.

Both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her deputy Wayne Swan on Sunday reiterated support for the measure even though they both ruled it out during the election campaign.

The government is using its minority status in a hung parliament, in which it needs the backing of the Australian Greens, and support for a price on carbon from BHP Billiton boss Marius Kloppers, as reasons for a change of mind on the issue.

“I think we’ve got to be a bit realistic here,” Ms Gillard told Network Ten on Sunday of the changed circumstances.

The new parliament will establish a committee, limited to MPs who agree “climate change is real”, to propose the best way of implementing a price on carbon.

But, fresh from a damaging row with the resources sector on a super-profits tax, the government faces new resistance.

Macarthur Coal chairman Keith DeLacy says most resources companies are against the introduction of a carbon price in Australia before the rest of the world.

“It would just impact on our competitiveness and it would do nothing, absolutely nothing for emissions, for carbon emissions,” he told ABC Television.

“In fact, there’s a good argument to say that it would actually increase global emissions.”

Macarthur Coal is the world’s largest producer of low volatile pulverised injection coal used for steel making.

Mr DeLacy said Australia was the most efficient mining country in the world, and sourcing coal from other countries such as Indonesia, Canada or the United States would mean greater energy use and therefore higher emissions.

The Australian Greens have welcomed the government’s renewed commitment to a price on carbon, a measure it shelved in April when the Rudd government dumped its version of an emissions trading scheme – the carbon pollution reduction scheme.

One of the key components of the minor party’s agreement to support a Labor minority government was the establishment of a climate change committee to deliver a carbon price, Greens senator Christine Milne said.

“Civil society can now have hope that the serious action they know is needed to address the climate crisis is possible,” she said.

More than 40 activists protesting against global warming were arrested at the Port of Newcastle on Sunday. Nine protesters who tethered themselves to structures were charged and bailed to appear in court next month.

Source: Carbon Offsets Daily.

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