Abbott turns up heat on policy

A NEW Coalition climate change policy had seized the high ground back from Labor and boosted the Nationals chances in the coming Federal election, Page and Richmond Nationals candidates Kevin Hogan and Tania Murdock said.

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbottreleased the policy, dubbed the EmissionsReduction Fund, in Canberra yesterday, saying it would result in the ‘same reductions in greenhouse gas emissions’ as Labor’s prop-osed emissions trading scheme by 2020, but at a fraction of the cost and with no impact on taxes, consumers or jobs.

The Coalition scheme aims at a cut of 5 per cent over that period; Labor’s scheme aims at cuts of between five and 25pc. The policy centres on a more carrot than stick approach, with no penalties to polluters who fail to lower their carbon dioxide emissions. Companies that do cut emissions will be eligible for rebates from the Government, while those that increase emissions will face penalties.

Some other measures in the policy include:

Rebates for homes, schools and communities to install solar panels;

Increased investment in renewable energy, including geothermal and tidal generators;

Planting 20 million trees by 2020.

Mr Abbott said the Coalition’s policy would cost $3.2 billion over four years, compared with $40 billion for Labor’s emissions trading scheme over the same period; and would result in the same 5 per cent cut in greenhouse emissions by 2020 that Labor wants from the trading scheme.

Speaking after the release of the policy yesterday, Mr Hogan said it offered a strong alt-ernative to Labor’s scheme.

“I think any reasonable Australian will look at it and say ‘this costs $3.2 billion and that costs $40 billion and we might run at that (the Coalition’s policy) because the philosophy underlying it is positive’,” Mr Hogan said.

Mr Hogan agreed new strategies would be needed to reach higher targets beyond 2020, possibly even a carbon trading scheme.

However, he said by then there could be a global trading scheme in place, which would neutralise concerns about carbon trading within the Coalition.

“If there’s a global ETS and a global price on carbon, I don’t think people would have an issue with it,” he said. “The big issue was us going by ourselves, which causes huge problems, and the rest of the world’s not doing anything.”

Ms Murdock was equally enthusiastic about the new policy, but had a different view beyond 2020, saying she wanted to see more of the same ideas put forward in the Emissions Reduction Fund policy to achieve greater cuts in the future.

Ms Murdock, a small business owner from Pottsville on the Tweed coast, said there was a lot business operators and individuals could do to reduce emissions, ranging from monitoring the amount of electricity they used to re-using printer paper.

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