Carbon Emissions


The federal government aims to legislate for a price on carbon late next year and have a scheme operating well before the next election in a bid to lessen the impact of a predicted fear campaign as voters go to the polls.

The Herald understands the strategy banks on the assumption that if a carbon price is introduced and allowed to operate for a while, people will realise it is not the monster opponents are making it out to be.The theory is based on John Howard’s introduction of the goods and services tax on July 1, 2000, amid a scare campaign. By the time of the election more than a year later, the public had grown used to it and there was little desire to revoke it.

Consequently, the central policy in 2001 of the then opposition leader, Kim Beazley, to ”roll back” the GST fell flat.

Last week, the multi-party climate change committee held its first meeting to develop a mechanism for putting a price on carbon. Its options include an emissions trading scheme, a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme with a temporary fixed price for a tonne of carbon.

It is understood the committee’s most likely proposal will be a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme with a fixed price, as these will cause the least disagreement between Labor and the Greens, which comprise the bulk of the committee. They will also control the Senate after July 1.

But there is an awareness in the government that at the end of the process, a carbon price or fixed emissions trading scheme could be agreed on, but the two parties could still differ over what price to put on a tonne of carbon. The Greens are unlikely to accept anything less than $23, which was recommended as an interim measure after the emissions trading scheme collapsed. The government would want a price of about half that to lessen the impact as the scheme began.

Should the hung parliament last three years – the next election is due in late 2013 – a scheme could be operating from mid-2012 if all goes to plan.

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has barred any of his MPs or senators from sitting on the climate change committee because membership requires support for a carbon price. Instead the Coalition is promoting ”direct action” in which federal government money is spent directly on measures to reduce pollution.

Mr Abbott gave notice yesterday that the cost of living scare campaign he successfully used to force the previous prime minister Kevin Rudd to shelve the emissions trading scheme would be used again. He also indicated it would be expanded to include the recommended cuts to irrigation along the Murray-Darling Basin which farmers have warned would push up food prices.

”The Gillard government just doesn’t get it when it comes to the cost of living,” he said. ”Gillard government policies are going to make electricity dearer and food more expensive.”

The government reasons that its best chance is to get a mechanism in place as soon as possible and hope to leave Mr Abbott flat-footed.

The economist and climate change expert Ross Garnaut said last week that he did not want to pre-empt what the committee should recommend but pointed to his suggestion after the collapse of the emissions trading scheme of a fixed price per tonne of carbon until there was meaningful international action.

Source: Green Times.

Heinz has reduced its carbon emissions by 17,000 tons since 2006 at its UK factories in Kendal, Cumbria and Kitt Green with the help of Carbon Trust, reports Food and Drink Digital.

The foods company also has cut its energy costs at the UK factories, saving more than 13 percent of its annual energy costs in the Kitt Green food-processing complex alone, over the last two years, reports Carbon Trust. An energy audit of Heinz’ production lines helped the foods company achieve the energy savings.

Heinz energy managers discovered that a lot of energy was required to heat cold water to rehydrate the dried beans, as well as create the steam to cook the beans in their cans, reports Food and Drink Digital.

By capturing and recycling the waste heat from these processes, less energy is now needed to heat the water, which also has resulted in a drop in carbon emissions, says Carbon Trust.

Hugh Jones, director, solutions, the Carbon Trust, told the news site that there many opportunities to save energy and cut carbon emissions by changing the way companies manufacture everyday products.

Other initiatives that helped Heinz cut energy use and carbon emissions include improving the efficiency of its boilers and making design changes to production line machines.

The foods company also is looking at ways to produce power from waste and use more renewable energy in an effort to help the company meet its goal to cut global carbon emissions 20 percent, based on 2005 levels, by 2015, reports Carbon Trust.

Heinz, along with some of the UK’s largest retailers Asda, Boots, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, also has voluntarily agreed to reduce the carbon footprint of its grocery packaging by 10 percent by 2012.

Source: Environmental Leader.

Aurora Biofuels, Green Rock Energy and the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder are set to share in $8 million of Western Australian State Government funding for new low emission energy projects.

Announced by Western Australian Environment Minister Donna Faragher and Western Australian Energy Minister Peter Collier, the funding will draw from the Low Emissions Energy Development Fund.

Aurora Biofuels will receive $2million towards a project to source CO2 from a major industrial plant in the Karratha region for use as feedstock for algal production, with subsequent production of biodiesel and other algal products.

Green Rock Energy will receive $5.4 million towards its project for the commercial demonstration of direct use of geothermal energy in hot sedimentary aquifers beneath the Perth metropolitan area to replace electricity for building air-conditioning at The University of Western Australia’s Crawley campus.

The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder has been granted $559,000 for a project to install ground source heat pumps, paired with solar photovoltaic panels, to provide renewable energy for pool heating at the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Oasis Recreation Centre.

Source: Eco Generation.

AUSTRALIANS have paid a “high price” for the emissions trading scheme delay and the Gillard government should establish a carbon market as soon as possible, according to blunt advice from the federal Treasury in the normally top-secret “red book” prepared for an incoming Labor administration.

The “red book”, which landed on Wayne Swan’s desk the morning after the election, also warns the $43 billion national broadband network carries “significant financial risks”, that the strong economy could fuel inflation and the rapidly rising population projections both parties disavowed during the election campaign were largely unavoidable.

Released following freedom-of-information requests, the advice will add to growing business pressure for Labor to legislate some form of carbon price during this Parliament and comes after the BHP chief executive, Marius Kloppers, called for Australia to move quickly on the matter.

Julia Gillard went to the polls promising a “citizens’ assembly” to build public support before deciding whether she would proceed with Labor’s shelved ETS.

But Treasury told the Prime Minister that “the sooner an ETS can be implemented the better. Too much time has already been wasted – for which the Australian community will necessarily pay a high price.”

Last night the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, also released the “blue book” Treasury prepared for an incoming Coalition government. This said that even Australia’s minimum emissions reduction target of 5 per cent by 2020, supported by both main parties, “cannot be achieved without a carbon price unless damaging economic and budget impacts are to be imposed”.

Treasury tells the Coalition that its “direct action” climate policy would be more expensive than a “market-based mechanism”.

During the campaign both parties emphasised the need for a “sustainable” population, but Treasury says strong population growth will continue for at least the next 15 years.

Even if internal migration slowed to 60,000 a year for the next four decades, well under the 100,000 average for the past 40 years, the population in 2050 would still hit 29 million.

“Net immigration figures well in excess of that low number are probably inescapable,” Treasury says, adding that strong population growth “is not necessarily unsustainable … it need not adversely affect the environment, the liveability of cities, infrastructure and service delivery”, so long as governments planned well.

Treasury warns that the national broadband network, which was a plus for Labor during the campaign and in its successful negotiations with the country independents, could meet its policy goals but “carries significant risks, including financial risks for the public balance sheet.”

It recommends changes to water policy and says Labor’s election policy to buy back whatever quantity of water allocations is recommended in a yet-to-be-released Murray-Darling Basin Authority report “presents significant fiscal risks”.

It also cites “glaring” failures in national housing, electricity and transport markets and advises the government to increase the power of its adviser, Infrastructure Australia.

In 2008 that body lamented the lack of big projects ready for government funding. “The situation has not changed,” Treasury says.

It urges Labor to move fast on state tax reform, to shake-up the apprenticeship system, and to rethink the free trade agreements it is negotiating, whose benefits have been oversold.

Overriding all its other recommendations, it advises the government to stick to its stringent rules to bring the budget back to surplus.

The government yesterday released its final budget position for the 2009-10 financial year. The $54.8 billion deficit was a $2.3 billion improvement against what was expected at the May budget. It reaffirmed the promise to bring the budget to surplus by 2012-13.

Source: Carbon Offsets Daily.

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.