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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Chronology of climate change in Australia

The Parliamentary Library has published a timeline of climate policy in Australia. The chronology begins in the 1970s, around the time that the Australian Academy of Sciences published a report asserting that human activities are likely to contribute to warming. The document charts the journey of Australian climate policy from then until today.The chronology reminds us that in the 1980s Australia considered an emissions reduction target of 20% on 1988 levels by 2005. This target was indeed adopted but only as a 'no regrets' strategy, under the proviso that the reduction would not be at the expense of the economy. A decade later, emissions had continued to rise but the government warned that ... Read more...

Stronger targets proposed in Climate Change Authority draft report

Today the Climate Change Authority (CCA) released a draft version of its ‘Targets and Progress Review’. The review, which according to the Clean Energy Act 2011 must be finalised by 28 February 2014, is to be used by the Minister in determining Australia’s emissions reduction goals under the carbon price mechanism. The draft report proposes two sets of caps; each set of caps defines a different emissions trajectory between now and 2020, and then to 2030. The CCA is calling for stakeholder input until 29 November 2013.The proposed targetsTwo scenarios are put forward. The more ambitious scenario aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 2000 levels by 2020 and 40 to 50% by 2030. The l... Read more...

Countries trading greenhouse gas emissions

Over the last three years, the global carbon market has more than doubled in volume but almost halved in value. In that time a further eight countries, states or cities have adopted a carbon market as their primary means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet the price for one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent has dropped by as much as 100 per cent in some markets. A new paper from the Parliamentary Library provides a basic overview of the size and value of the global carbon market and details exactly which countries and regions are covered by a mandatory emissions trading scheme (ETS). Here is a snapshot of that paper. The table below provides details of all mandatory legislated ETSs... Read more...

Trading aviation emissions – Part 3: Australia outlines its position

The Government yesterday announced solidarity with a number of other countries opposing the EU’s move to include international aviation in its emission trading scheme. The motion was originally put forward by Nationals Leader Warren Truss who has been active in raising awareness on the issue. The Government supported Mr Truss’ motion. Two previous FlagPosts (this one and this one) outline why the EU's decision has been controversial and what reactions there have been. This FlagPost summarises Australia’s position and provides an update on international actions.Australia stands…The motion introduced by Mr Truss called on the Government to:(a) use all political, diplomatic, and legal tools at ... Read more...

Korea passes ETS but details are hazy

Legislation for a mandatory greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme (ETS) has passed South Korea's unicameral National Assembly with bipartisan support. However, many important details have still to be finalised. This FlagPost provides a summary of the Korean scheme with a little bit of background.  With a planned start date of 1 January 2015, the Korean ETS is expected to cover at least 450 entities and about 60 per cent of national greenhouse gas emissions. All industries and buildings are included in the scheme and must participate if their annual emissions exceed the annual emissions threshold for liability. The threshold has been set at 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which... Read more...

Trading aviation emissions - Part 2

The leader of the Nationals, Warren Truss, has called the EU's inclusion of aviation in its emission trading scheme (ETS) an 'iniquitous tax', siding with a number of countries that oppose the move. In its FlagPost Trading aviation emissions from February, the Parliamentary Library outlined the main elements of the EU's decision and some of the international relations issues that have arisen. Since then, a series of new developments have taken place and the debate is far from resolved. This FlagPost is an update on the situation globally. Preparing for take-offDespite vocal international resistance, the EU is forging ahead with its proposed schedule. On 3 February, the European Commission (E... Read more...

Trading aviation emissions

For the first time, Qantas and other airlines are being held accountable for greenhouse gas emissions from their international flights—at least for those flights using an airport within the European Union (EU). The move by the EU to price and restrict greenhouse gas emissions from European flights has been a contentious one. This FlagPost explains the basic mechanics of the EU’s decision and highlights some of the issues being raised. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change anticipates that by 2050 international and domestic aviation emissions will be around five percent of what global annual ‘man-made’ emissions were in 2000. International aviation was exc... Read more...

The CFI laid bare

During the 2010 election, the Government announced that, if re-elected, it would introduce a new program, the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), to pay landholders for helping to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. On 24 March 2011, legislation for the CFI and two related bills was introduced into the House of Representatives. The debate is expected to take place this week. On the whole, the legislation has been well accepted by stakeholders, but there remain a number of contentious and complex issues with the design of the scheme. As the Parliamentary Library is in the final stages of developing a Bills Digest, this post provides a basic outline of the scheme and its main issues... Read more...

Carbon tax rate considerations

The Government’s recent proposal for tackling rising levels of Australian greenhouse gas emissions is a two-stage carbon price mechanism. The first stage of the scheme is a carbon tax. After three to five years, this will be transitioned into stage two, a cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme (ETS). The details of this architecture are unconfirmed, and there has been speculation over the level of the first-stage tax. There are also opposing views arguing that carbon pricing is not likely to be as effective in reducing emissions as, say, direct investment to accelerate the development of competitive renewable or non-carbon sources in the marketplace. So any carbon pricing mechanism implement... Read more...

Emissions Trading – Some developments since late 2010

In November 2010 the Parliamentary Library published a Background Note outlining operating and proposed emissions trading schemes around the world. Since that publication, there have been several new developments:  the proposed South Korean Emissions Trading Scheme will commence operations in 2015 instead of the 2013 date that had been speculatedthe legislation implementing the proposed Japanese emissions trading scheme is currently under review. If the scheme goes ahead it most likely will commence operations in 2015 instead of 2013in America, the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord appears to have been abandoned by the current governors of the 10 participating states. None of these ... Read more...