Push to exempt Australian farmers from carbon laws

  • World
  • Wednesday, 14 Oct 2009

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia's government will be asked to exempt farmers from carbon trading in order to pass landmark emissions laws through parliament under changes being pushed by opposition lawmakers on Wednesday.

Legislation to set up carbon trading from July 2011, the world's second domestic trading platform after the European Union's scheme, remain locked in parliament's upper house, where the government needs opposition support to pass the package.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd could call an early election if the laws are rejected for a second time in November. Agriculture is shaping as a key sticking point.

"You do everything in your power to turn the volume on this ridiculous tax down, so I suppose we'll support an amendment to take agriculture out," said Senator Barnaby Joyce, leader of the junior opposition National Party in the upper house.

The opposition Liberal and National Parties will hold a special meeting on Sunday to endorse changes they want to the carbon-trade laws in return for their support for the scheme, which would cover around 75 percent of Australian emissions.

The opposition also wants a Senate vote delayed until early 2010, but the government wants its laws passed by late November, ahead of global climate talks in Copenhagen in December.


In the run-up to Copenhagen the Australian debate is being closely watched in other countries including the United States, where lawmakers are also crafting emissions trading laws.

Under the Australian scheme, the top 1,000 companies will need a permit for every tonne of carbon emitted, putting a price on pollution and providing an incentive to clean up operations.

But the biggest polluting export companies will receive up to 95 percent of permits for free in the initial years of the scheme, with the carbon price at A$10 ($9.12) a tonne for the first year.

Agriculture, which accounts for 16 percent of Australian emissions, will be exempt in the early years, with a decision to be taken in 2013 on whether farmers should be included from 2015.

The National Party, which traditionally represents rural Australia, and major farm lobby groups want farmers to be permanently exempt from the carbon trading system.

In Beijing, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the government was willing to negotiate amendments in good faith, but the opposition needed to consider the cost of changes.

"They are going to have to be more responsible than to simply put forward the latest wishlist from some aspects of industry," Wong told reporters.

Australia, the world's biggest coal exporter, accounts for about 1.5 percent of global carbon emissions, but is one of the world's highest per capital emitters.

(Additional reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison in Beijing; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Next In World

French pilot says he was tied to firing target in hazing ritual
Explainer-Can Scotland hold another independence referendum?
Iran's Rouhani upbeat on accord at talks to lift sanctions
Gunmen kill seven Nigerian police officers in oil state attacks
Ireland removes Italy, Austria from hotel quarantine list
Scottish result 'significant' for Irish unity drive, says Sinn Fein leader
Italy plans to lift quarantine restrictions for some travellers from mid-May
Sudanese officials meet with U.S. envoy over stalled dam talks
Jerusalem tensions high as thousands head to Al-Aqsa after clashes
Myanmar's junta brands rival government a terrorist group

Stories You'll Enjoy