Friday, 13 November 2009

Passing ETS would be huge global help: summit chief

Thursday 12/11/2009 Page: 5

THE chief of the Copenhagen climate summit says it would make a "huge difference" to global negotiations if Australia passed its emissions trading scheme soon. Danish Minister for Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard is organising the crucial summit, which was called to thrash out a new pact to tackle climate change. Ms Hedegaard urged the Australian parliament to pass the ETS before the summit begins on December 7. "That will make a huge difference in Copenhagen," she told a press conference in Copenhagen yesterday. "It will be very exceptional and I hope very much that the Australian government can manage to get the whole package through the parliament."

The Australian government wants the scheme passed by parliament before Copenhagen and is putting the ETS laws to the House of Representatives on Monday. But the scheme is in trouble in the Senate, where the government does not have a majority. Many opposition MPs say it would be better to delay a vote; some want to vote down the scheme outright. The Rudd government and the opposition are locked in negotiations but as yet no deal has been struck.

Ms Hedegaard said the finalisation of Australia's ETS, due to start in 2011, would make it clear that Australia could meet its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5-25% by 2020. Organisers do not want a repeat of the Kyoto climate change pact, when many countries promised to cut emissions but did not do so. European Union climate negotiators believe Australia passing an ETS would be valuable because it would encourage the US another heavy-polluting country to reduce emissions.