viernes, 29 de junio de 2012
Australia is setting the world’s highest price on carbon emissions as it seeks to avoid mistakes made when Europe started the biggest cap-and-trade system seven years ago.
The country of 22.5 million people, with the most emissions per capita among developed nations, will charge almost 300 of Australia’s largest polluters a fixed price of A$23 ($23.15) a metric ton for their greenhouse gases for the year starting July 1. European Union carbon allowances closed yesterday at 7.97 euros ($10) a ton on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is counting on payouts and credits worth about A$30 billion over the next four years to appease Australian business and households facing higher power bills. The climate law she pushed through Parliament last year also allows Australia to reduce its supply of permits to support prices. The cost of European Union carbon allowances plunged to a record low this year after it gave away too many, failing to foresee falling demand because of the recession and debt crisis.
“Europe pioneered this, and the whole point of being a leader is that you are learning by doing, and sometimes making a lot of mistakes,” said Anthony Hobley, the global head of climate change at the law firm Norton Rose LLP who consulted with the EU on the design of its emissions registry and worked on the first emissions-trading contracts in Europe. “Australia has the advantage of being able to learn from those.”
Carbon pricing is Australia’s main tool for meeting its target of a 5 percent cut in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020. The levy will be fixed until 2015, when the country plans to to introduce a market-based system. By opting for cap and trade, which lets emitters buy and sell a fixed number of pollution permits, Gillard is endorsing a system that has been rejected at the national level in the U.S. and dubbed “a toxic tax” by Australia’s opposition party.
That criticism isn’t stopping governments around the world from adopting carbon pricing. California, the largest state in the U.S., is scheduled to start a cap-and-trade system next year and link it with the Canadian province of Quebec. Seven manufacturing regions in China are set for pilot trading programs in 2013, and South Korean lawmakers voted to begin emissions trading by 2015.
“The cheapest and most efficient way of reducing carbon pollution is to harness the power of the market, to put a price tag on greenhouse gas emissions that creates an incentive to cut them,” Australian Climate Minister Greg Combet said on June 20.
Australia has built price ceilings and floors into the market-based system for the three years to 2018 to protect against spikes or plunges. These boundaries have drawn criticism from independent lawmaker Rob Oakeshott, a supporter of Gillard who helped her form a minority government in 2010.
The price of Australian allowances may be higher than international credits when the market-based system starts in 2015, posing a risk to investment in the country, Oakeshott said last month, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott, whose Liberal-National coalition is ahead of Gillard’s Labor government in opinion polls, has said the carbon levy will “act as a wrecking ball across the economy.”
Abbott has vowed to repeal the legislation if he wins a leadership role in next year’s election. He couldn’t rescind the policy before the end of 2014, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a note dated June 18.
Australia will set the annual supply of permits five years in advance. That offers more leeway for adjusting supply than in Europe, which locked in its cap through 2020 more than a decade beforehand and needs member states to agree before any revisions can be made.
This has led to a surplus of allowances that dragged the price to a record low of 5.99 euros ($7.50) in April. While the falling price eases the burden on the more than 12,000 emitters covered in the European program, it works against the goal of discouraging use of coal, oil and other fossil fuels, and provides little incentive to invest in cleaner technologies.
The European Commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, is considering options to improve the carbon market and address the oversupply, while members of the 27-nation bloc remain divided on whether to amend its climate policies.
Fuente: Business Week
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