The Australian government faces increased opposition to its carbon trading scheme after it released legislation it hopes to pass by mid-year, reports the Voice of America. The carbon pollution reduction scheme or CPRS calls for a reduction of carbon emissions by five percent of 2000 levels by 2020.
Described as the most sweeping cap-and-trade system in the world, the CPRS works by forcing companies to pay for their pollution through a permit system, which is aimed at encouraging companies to reduce their carbon emissions, according to Voice of America.
Earlier this month, Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s administration named a committee of businessmen to advise on the emissions trading scheme in a move to divert increased concerns that industry compensation is inadequate.
Opposition lawmakers say the scheme will cost jobs, curtail investments and not significantly impact CO2 emissions, while environmental campaigners are demanding tougher targets to reduce emissions, reports the Voice of America.
In addition, lawyers told The Sydney Morning Herald that the scheme will allow any big Australian polluter to buy unlimited “offset” pollution credits in developing countries under a United Nations scheme, which will shift the burden of cutting their emissions to poor countries.
Environmentalists also criticized the plan to give companies up to 90 percent of their permits free if they are exporters whose competitors have no emissions restraints, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Lawyers told the newspaper that the remaining 10 percent of their permits could be bought in countries such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism.