Busting three misconceptions around Productivity Commission report Media Release

Jun 10, 2011 - 1:08pm

The independent Climate Institute has today moved to bust three misconceptions around the Productivity Commission’s Report released yesterday.

Climate Institute Deputy CEO Erwin Jackson said some politicians and business leaders had chosen to misrepresent or had clearly misunderstood the conclusions from the report.

“It’s important to set the record straight on these issues in order to have an honest public discussion about what actions are actually being taken elsewhere,” Mr Jackson said.

Misconception 1: No other country is implementing an economy-wide pollution price.

FACT: “Australia is also not considering an economy wide direct pollution price at this time. The architecture released for the pollution price only covers around 75 per cent of Australia’s emissions. Also all major economies have committed to economy-wide targets and they are now implementing policies to meet these targets. In some cases, this involves a direct pollution price and in others an implicit price. For example, measures outside the European Union’s emissions trading scheme include setting minimum requirements for the energy performance of new buildings, legislated emission performance standards for new passenger cars and targets for pollution reductions for sectors such as agriculture. While some of these are not covered by the Commission’s report, all these policies have direct or indirect price pollution prices with them,” Mr Jackson said.

Misconception 2: The Commission’s report does not cover Brazil, Canada, Russia, South Africa and other competitors and they are not acting. 

FACT: “While the Commission does not cover all major economies this doesn’t mean these other countries are not acting. For example, Brazil, South Africa, Russia and Canada have, like all major economies, committed internationally under the Cancun Agreements to limit pollution. Brazil has effectively placed an implicit price on forest loggers and farmers in order to meet its targets, which are among the most ambitious of any country and a third stronger than Australia’s. Brazil's domestic target is to reduce deforestation to 80 per cent of the annual average between 1996 and 2005 by 2020, but it also has national energy efficiency and renewable energy targets. As another example, both Canada and South Africa already have forms of direct pollution prices in their economies.  Canada and Russia are, however, pollution backwaters and their pollution targets are weak. Australia has a choice. Remain as a pollution dependent economy, sit with the laggards and suffer the economic costs of delay or join other nations gaining first-mover economic advantages in clean energy,” Mr Jackson said.

Misconception 3: Other countries are not putting pollution prices on coalmining. 

 “This is very misleading on the issues facing Australia and the PC focused on electricity and transport. Regardless of whether countries are focused on coal mining or not, nations have economy-wide targets. If they don’t directly reduce pollution from one part of their economy it just means they have to make this up in another part. Coal and gas mining are among the fastest growing pollution sources in Australia. If they don’t take responsibility for doing their fair share then that burden will fall on other businesses and households,” Mr Jackson said.

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