Emissions trading scheme and public transport

By: Chris Smith

The Bus Industry Confederation says public transport should be included in the emissions trading scheme proposed in a Green Paper

The Bus Industry Confederation says public transport should be included in the emissions trading scheme proposed in a Green Paper released last week by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

Wong says the Government has sought to strike the right balance, on the basis of economically responsible policy in the national interest.

The paper suggests heavy vehicle transport, fuel taxes will be cut on a cent-for-cent basis to offset the initial price impact on fuel associated with the impact of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme proposed by the Green Paper.

The Government will review this measure after one year, giving the heavy transport sector three years to plan how to reduce its emissions.

"Our commitment to cut fuel taxes for the first three years of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme on a cent for cent basis to offset the price impact on fuel will offer motorists five years to plan for potentially higher fuel prices," Wong claims.

BIC executive director Michael Apps says the ETS should be reviewed after the first year for public transport and should have the same conditions as all car users for the first three years.

"BIC will be seeking to go three years with cars," Apps says.

"It’s not a question of being out of the ETS, it’s a matter of introducing complimentary government policies to attract people to use public transport.

"The industry should be rewarded for reducing overall carbon emissions."

He says the government should offer a range of disincentives to motorists including congestion charges in peak periods.

Wong says the market will reward companies and industries which find ways to produce their goods in a way that contributes less carbon pollution to the atmosphere.

"The major regulatory burden of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Centres around 1000 mainly, large businesses, who are major emitters," Wong says.

These heavy carbon emitters, under the scheme, will be required to buy carbon permits.

Apps suggests because public transport is a carbon negative rather than carbon positive industry, major emitters should be made to buy public transport vouchers or public transport permits.

"The proceeds of the public transport permits can then go into the Federal assistance to the States," he says.

He says BIC will be pushing for greater federal funding to be pushed into public transport to relieve state funding issues.

More than 99 percent of businesses will not be required to purchase carbon permits for the simple reason that they aren’t major emitters.

Although Wong says, "all businesses will of course be affected by the general economic impact of the system including through higher energy prices".

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