Australians ponder carbon trading

Rifts have developed between Australia's central Government and state leaders over whether or not the country is ready to implement its own carbon trading scheme.

Australia is one of the few developed countries not to have signed up to the Kyoto protocol and the Government of Prime Minister John Howard has always resisted doing so, arguing that it would harm the national economy.

The country is the world's largest exporter of coal and its industry is largely dependent on the fossil fuel to generate power.

Perhaps understandably from a commercial point of view, central Government is pinning its hopes on a technological solution to climate change and advocates the development of clean coal over carbon trading.

But a number of states, frustrated by what they see as a lack of leadership on tackling climate change, have followed the example of several cities and states in that other great nation with an administration reluctant to come to terms with the realities of climate change, the USA, and decided to take the matter into their own hands.

The states have published a discussion paper, looking at the possibility of a cap and trade system similar to that adopted by the European Union, where polluters would be allocated carbon limits and would have to buy in extra credits if they exceeded their quota.

Those who managed to rein in their emissions and produce less than their targets would be able to profit by selling the excess credits.

While there is support for the idea from the majority of states, the industrial hubs of Western Australia and Queensland are opposed to it as they will be the hardest hit by any changes.

Peter Beattie, Queensland Premier, told Australian radio: "I refuse to support projects that sound good and deliver bugger all."

Sam Bond



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