Greens will push Labor to restore carbon price
In the wake of the collapse of the Liberal vote and their ditching of the National Energy Guarantee, Greens Deputy Leader and climate change and energy spokesperson, Adam Bandt MP, has called on Labor to commit to re-implementing the carbon price agreed in the 2010 power-sharing Parliament if it wins the next election.
Mr Bandt said that Labor was using its apparent impending election victory and the Coalition’s outright climate denialism to water down its own climate policy and blow any chance of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees, as evidenced by Labor’s recent announcements to:
● revitalise the dumped National Energy Guarantee as their preferred mechanism for the electricity sector;
● scale-back emissions reductions in the electricity sector by adopting the Coalition’s pro-rata approach to reductions, announcing Labor will limit emissions cuts in electricity to 45% on 2005 levels, the same as its economy-wide target. This will shift higher targets on to industry, agriculture, transport, yet Labor has no announced policy to meet these targets in these sectors;
● honour contracts to build or refurbish coal-fired power stations signed under the Coalition.
Mr Bandt indicated the Greens would use their position after the next election to push Labor to increase their ambition and re-introduce the carbon pricing legislation agreed in the shared-power Parliament, which successfully drove emissions reductions across the economy over the 24 months that it was in force until its repeal by the Abbott Government in 2014.
The Greens’ announcement comes amidst a resurgence of concern regarding climate change in the wake of the Wentworth by-election. There are many in Labor who support the return of the carbon price, most recently Tim Murray, their candidate for Wentworth, who said a carbon price is “not Labor party policy, but is the best way...personally I will be lobbying for a price on carbon through a trading scheme.”
Since the repeal of the carbon price in 2014, not only have Australia’s emissions steadily increased, but the absence of a price signal removed the incentive for industry to decarbonise.
To compensate for the lost time and to account for a significant increase in emissions over the last 4 years, the Greens would seek to re-legislate an accelerated version of the original carbon pricing framework, which was developed by the Multi-Party Committee under the 2010 power sharing Parliament. Mr Bandt was a member of the Committee.
The framework set a fixed price for each tonne of carbon emitted by big polluters, starting at $23 per tonne and rising 2.5% per year for 3 years, before transitioning to an emissions trading scheme linked with the European trading scheme. Had the scheme not been repealed by Tony Abbott, the fixed price period would have expired and Australia would currently have a floating price linked to the EU scheme, currently trading at approximately A$31/tonne. The Greens would seek to pick up where we would be had the scheme not been repealed, namely with the floating price.
A carbon price will complement existing policies such as national and state based renewable energy targets provide certainty to business and industry, an effective and efficient way to reduce emissions and has broad ranging support amongst business and NGOs.
Quotes attributable to Adam Bandt MP, Greens Co-Deputy Leader and climate change and energy spokesperson:
“If we want real action on climate change, we need to bring back the price on pollution agreed to by Julia Gillard, the Greens and independents” said Mr Bandt.
“Bill Shorten’s Labor needs to do what the science is demanding, not just be slightly less worse than the Liberals.
“After the collapse of the NEG, it is time to reset our sights on good policy, not shoddy Abbott-appeasing compromises.
“Instead of making itself a small target by cravenly reheating the NEG, Labor needs to join the Greens and the crossbench to legislate an enduring, credible and effective policy framework to reduce pollution.
“Labor is claiming the latest IPCC report poses ‘a risk from which we cannot hide’ but is adopting an Abbott-esque commitment to pro-rata emissions reductions. They can’t have it both ways.
“The NEG is an untried mess of a policy designed to appease Tony Abbott but we know a carbon price works because we tried it.
“The only time Australia’s emissions have decreased over the last decade or so has been with a price on pollution. If we are to have any hope of meeting our Paris obligations, we need to bring it back. We will need to do much more than a price on pollution to avoid a climate crisis, like continue the renewable energy target and plan for the orderly retirement of coal-fired power, but a carbon price is essential.
“The price on pollution was delivering compensation to households, creating revenue to invest in the clean energy transition and reducing emissions.
“I think everyone can now agree the Tony Abbott experiment was a disaster that sent Australia off course. Instead of remaining cowed by the spectre of Tony Abbott, we should get back to policy that works and put the price on pollution back on the table.
“Without Tony Abbott in the picture, the Greens will push Labor to recommit to sensible, proven emissions reduction policies that are capable of driving decarbonisation across the economy.
“If Labor doesn’t take a price on pollution to the next election, we’ll use our numbers in the House and the Senate to push Labor into adopting it.”
“I hope this government loses the next election, but the next mob needs a serious climate policy.”
Under the carbon price, Australia’s annual emissions fell from 543.3 MT of Co2 in June 2012, to a low of 530.5 MT Co2 in June 2014, a month before the repeal of the legislation in July 2014. 
The price of electricity was also lower under the carbon price than it is today. According to the Australian Energy Regulator, wholesale prices across the NEM averaged $62 per megawatt hour in 12-13, falling to $55.6 per megawatt hour the following year. Currently, the average for 17-18 is $91.2. 
According to the ABS, electricity prices have increased by 21.9% from June 2016 to June 2018.
Had Australia’s scheme linked to the EU scheme as intended, emissions permits would now be trading at approximately $31 (Є19.10 euro) per tonne.
Contact: Gideon Reisner, 0429 109 054