Australia should prioritise regional emissions trading to accelerate global action Media Release

Mar 14, 2012 - 2:43pm

Australia should prioritise building a regional emissions trading coalition that boosts the carbon pollution reduction actions and commitments of neighbouring countries not just focus on linkages to existing markets in the European Union and New Zealand.

That is the conclusion of a discussion paper The Climate Institute released today, titled Emissions Trading Coalitions – Leveraging Emissions Trading to Achieve Greater Levels of Global Mitigation Ambition.

“The Australian Government has acknowledged that, as the developed country most at risk from climate change, our national interest lies in effective global action. Maximising global ambition and action should be our greatest priority,” said Erwin Jackson, Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute.

“This report highlights that Australia now has a clear strategic choice on how it interacts with international carbon markets. Australia has a unique opportunity to strengthen ties with other countries in the Asia Pacific region who are acting to reducing emissions domestically and internationally.”

He added: “The Government is working with the European Union and New Zealand to link our emission trading system to ours. While this should be investigated, a more strategic path would be to prioritise engagement with emerging markets and actions in our Asia/Pacific backyard.”

Emissions trading schemes are under way or under development in Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea, California, Mexico and Chile. Countries like Indonesia have also committed internationally to reduce emissions and set ambitious pollution reduction targets.

Regional emission trading coalitions would allow countries, for example, like Indonesia to sell credits to countries with emission trading schemes if Indonesia exceeds the targets they have committed internationally.

“By giving developing countries export opportunities from large scale emission reductions, emission trading coalitions can provide stronger incentives for developed countries to pledge and exceed their own emissions reduction targets,” said Jackson. “This has the dual benefit of allowing countries with emission trading schemes access to lower cost markets and would provide opportunities for them to take on stronger emission targets.”

He added: “Regional emission trading coalitions can provide a credible complementary policy to schemes that may emerge under the new UN legal agreement covering all major emitters to be agreed by 2015. However, to be credible, in the shortterm they should focus on sectors where emission reductions can be more easily measured and verified. This would exclude reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries for the time being.”

“Australia is very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and it is in our national interest to ensure the strongest possible global response. A path towards regional emission trading coalitions, not just linking with existing markets in Europe, should be a strategic priority for Australia.”

The full paper can be accessed below .

For further information and interviews:
Erwin Jackson | Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute | 03 9600 4039
Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299

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