Australian Carbon Trading Scheme Commences: All Emissions Are Not Local
Australian carbon trading took another step forward last month when the first carbon credits under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme were issued. The national carbon trading program has been in the works for six years, politically supported by a Labor-Green coalition government; the first three to five years of the program will see a government-fixed price for carbon, to transition to a market-derived price later.
The first credits actually issued were to three big polluters: Alcoa of Australia Ltd (the mining/refining subsidiary of the American aluminum company), and two to Queensland Nitrates Pty Ltd for production of ammonia, and ammonia nitrate. The three were given a total of 6.37 million free carbon credits under the Jobs and Competitiveness Program, an "assistance program" to companies that "produce significant carbon emissions but are constrained in their ability to pass through costs in global markets." This is still being determined, but depending on their category, industry will receive credits for 66 to 94.5 percent of their emissions to start with, assistance which will be reduced by 1.3 percentage a year.
The carbon market in Australia has been gearing up for quite some time; there are already 55 different Australian carbon-offset providers listed in the Carbon Offset Guide. There are dozens of brokers, retailers, exchanges, with support for reforestation, renewable energy, and methane capture. Some of the companies started scoping out biomass in 2004 to get ready. You can hire someone to measure your footprint; you can buy and sell offset forests like you were playing Settlers of Catan. There's even Carbon Jar, for individuals who want to measure their footprint with an online game.
Australia has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world, largely due to their use and reserves of coal (which is being dug out of the ground apace and shipped across Asia). One good thing that's going to come out of this is universal and heightened awareness of the carbon cost of everything. You simply can't have a national market that affects industry and not have it make its way into popular culture as well — the fierce political debate over the "Carbon Tax" has ensured that.
Article continues at ENN affiliate, Triple Pundit
Australia Coal Export image via Shutterstock