Labor’s vow to revive an emissions trading scheme will be a “carbon tax on steroids” and hike up power bills, the federal government warns.
The Federal Opposition has released a climate change policy involving two emissions trading schemes (ETS), more expensive, but better fuel economy cars by 2025, and a “climate trigger” to prevent the states from allowing the clearing of large tracts of land.
There will be an ETS for electricity generators and a separate one for businesses in other industries who emit more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon pollution per year.
The latter scheme will be rolled out in two phases, with Labor promising phase one will not involve a carbon price.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who supported the introduction of an emissions trading scheme in 2009 when he was opposition leader, said before the announcement that Labor’s reduction target would raise energy prices.
He labelled as substantial the coalition’s 26-28 per cent target which he said amounted to a 50 per cent cut on a per-capita basis.
“What they’re proposing is to double the burden on Australians relative to other countries,” he told ABC radio of Labor’s policy.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt, in a tweet, said: “Bill Shorten’s #CarbonTax will be Julia Gillard’s #CarbonTax on steroids”.
The Climate Institute says the commitments will set the nation towards internationally-agreed and bipartisan supported goals to limit global warming.
The Wilderness Society says the plan will help stop out-of-control tree clearing.
But Greenpeace says the policy does not go far enough to protect the environment from the rapid and unpredictable damage of global warming.
“Now is not the time for half measures on climate change,” spokeswoman Nikola Caule said.
Under the general industries scheme, companies would be able to emit carbon to a certain level without paying a penalty but any emissions over the cap would need to be offset.
Labor said 100 per cent of the offset obligations could be met by buying cheap international permits.
The agriculture, road transport and refrigerants industries would be exempt from the first-phase ETS.
The first-phase ETS would run from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2020.
Labor also plans to introduce mandatory light vehicle standards, which it says will save drivers $8,500 in fuel costs over the life of car but add $1,500 to the price of a new car in 2025.
The policy document also outlines a plan for a “carbon trigger” enshrined in federal legislation to allow the Commonwealth to regulate broad-scale land clearing, “to prevent a repeat of the fiasco under the last LNP Government in Queensland”.
Labor said it would operate under the same principle as the 2013 water trigger legislation.
The ALP has also pledged to increase the Clean Energy Regulator’s funding by $36.1 million over the forward estimates.
The policy document also confirms Labor promise to reduce carbon emissions by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.