Return of the carbon price inevitable

10 NOVEMBER 2015

A CSU expert believes Australia should be prepared for the return of carbon pricing after the next election, regardless of which party wins.

Professor Kevin PartonA Charles Sturt University (CSU) expert believes Australia should be prepared for the return of carbon pricing after the 2016 election, regardless of which party wins.

Professor of Economics Kevin Parton from CSU's School of Management and Marketing and the Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS) said we can expect a return to carbon pricing in the form of an emissions trading scheme (ETS).

"The main component of government climate change policy is direct action which is not the natural policy of a conservative government; the reason we have direct action is largely political," Professor Parton said.

"A typical conservative government policy would be a market-driven, carbon pricing policy. While in opposition, Mr Abbott successfully convinced the Australian public that carbon pricing was the major cause of their economic ills, and once elected the Abbott government was determined to get rid of it."

Professor Parton acknowledges that with Mr Turnbull as Prime Minister there will be little change in the short term but believes in the future both major parties will again agree on policy.

"Back in 2008, Labor and the Coalition agreed that an emissions trading scheme was the appropriate policy to reduce greenhouse gases," Professor Parton said.

"Economic pressure will again encourage all parties to adopt an ETS in the next term because direct action policy is only a short-term solution and most economic analysis shows that an ETS is the most efficient, least-costly policy.

"The difficulty with direct action, when used alone, is that it gets very costly to tighten the emissions target and it gets very restrictive in terms of the amount of government involvement necessary. Mr Turnbull is unlikely to support such a scenario."

Australia is currently on track to meet the emissions reductions targets set by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but these targets are weak compared to those set by the US and China; Australia seems to be slipping behind.

"It will be instructive to see whether we adopt tighter emission targets at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. Every country that is seriously tackling carbon emissions has an ETS and it will become very obvious at the conference that Australia is currently not one of them."

Professor Parton believes that the future of climate change policy in Australia will see an ETS as the principal policy, but with some elements of direct action retained in the form of small incentives for firms to adopt non-polluting technology. Such a combined policy would mirror European policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Media contact:

Hannah Guilfoyle, 0417 125 795


Media Note:
Professor Parton is based at CSU in Orange and is available for interviews. Contact CSU Media for more information.

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