Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is working to secure support from the Liberal Party’s rural partner, Nationals, to back a net zero target in 2050 and possibly a more ambitious target for 2030 than Australia’s existing pledge to reduce emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels ahead of the UN climate conference in Glasgow.

Nevertheless, the Business Council of Australia – which represents the country’s largest companies, including miners, gas and power producers – said at the weekend that emission reductions of up to 50% below the 2005 level by 2030 could be achieved with major benefits for the economy.

During an energy and climate conference on Monday, Energy Minister Angus Taylor quickly rejected the Council’s recommendation that the government strengthen its “protection mechanism” by requiring companies emitting more than 25 million tonnes a year to buy carbon offsets compared to the current 100 million threshold. tons per year.

Analysis: Australia's climate policy is dictated by a former accountant in a cowboy hat

The protection mechanism and the carbon offsets market set Australia’s carbon price, which last week rose to a record high, but was still less than a third of the EU’s carbon price, which has much stricter emission limits.

“A significant tightening of the protection mechanism is a carbon tax that consumers will ultimately have to pay for, and that is not acceptable,” Taylor said at a conference hosted by the Australian Financial Review.

Australia is the world’s fourth largest energy exporter, and Taylor said the government’s main goal was to protect key industries including gas, coal, heavy manufacturing and agriculture, while promoting hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and carbon in the soil to reduce emissions.

The government would stick around by providing incentives to reduce emissions rather than punish polluters, he said.

“It means avoiding explicit carbon taxes or backdoor avenues for a carbon tax – sneaky coal taxes.”

Taylor’s speech came on the same day that Australian billionaire Twiggy Forrest, an outspoken critic of the government’s energy policy, announced he wanted to build the world’s largest electrolyser plant in Australia to further his ambition to produce green hydrogen.

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