Industry scare campaign undermines public debate, risks consumer confidence Media Release

Jun 16, 2011 - 11:02am

The independent Climate Institute has written an open letter to all members of the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) expressing concern about the role their industry body is playing in the debate on carbon pollution pricing.

Since August 2009, the AFGC has repeatedly claimed that a price on pollution would increase food and grocery prices by 3–5 per cent, and has repeatedly refused to substantiate its claims.

"Distorted and perverse claims about the cost impacts of placing a pollution price on Australia’s top 500 emitters risks hurting consumer confidence more than is warranted by any available credible economic research," Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute, Erwin Jackson, said.

The most recent Treasury modelling shows that food prices are likely to rise by around 0.5 per cent, an average of 80 cents a week or $40 a year. A separate assessment by the Grattan Institute shows similarly modest price impacts.

"Until the AFGC shows some credible price modelling, it’s difficult not to see their claims as anything other than a deliberate attempt to confuse the Australian public," Mr Jackson said.

"AFRC’s claims also ignore assessments by leading energy experts that have repeatedly shown that further delays and investment uncertainty around acting on climate change will increase electricity prices and cost consumers billions of dollars in unnecessary energy bills.

"Australians have every right to know what a pollution price will mean for their cost of living. We all need this information to participate in vigorous, evidence-based and constructive debate.

"We support the right of all industry associations to participate in the public debate but they ought to do so in a responsible manner."

Mr Jackson said that many, if not most of the AFGC’s members, were already taking action to cut pollution. Several members have also publicly supported strong action to avoid dangerous climate change, including a price on pollution.

"The progressive position of many AFGC members seems starkly at odds with the role their industry body is playing," Mr Jackson said.

"We urge AFGC members to ensure their industry body presents its case based on credible and publically accountable evidence."

A copy of the open letter is attached, along with a list of AFGC’s members.

For further information: 
Erwin Jackson | Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute | 03 9600 4039
Corey Watts | Regional Projects Manager, The Climate Institute | 03 9600 4039

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