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Carbon tax announcement 'just a ripple'

23rd Jul 2013

Prime minister Kevin Rudd's announcement last week that the carbon tax would be moved towards an emissions trading scheme earlier than planned has been downplayed by an industry organisation.

Many sustainable power advocates slammed the decision, which would see the price of carbon slump from $24.15 per tonne to between $6 and $10.

However, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) has bucked the trend, claiming it is a minor price to pay considering the government has implied most other funding initiatives will remain in place.

On Wednesday (July 17), Mr Rudd and treasurer Chris Bowen confirmed what the papers had been talking about for days, saying a switch to an emissions trading scheme would occur on July 1 2014 - one year ahead of schedule.

CEC chief executive officer David Green described the move as more of a ripple in the renewable pond than a large-scale wave crushing the industry.

"Whether we are talking about a fixed price or a floating price on carbon doesn't matter too much one way or the other," Mr Green stated.

"The most important thing for our industry is the stability of Australia's 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target (RET) - the primary policy driving billions of dollars of investment and more than 24,300 jobs in the renewable energy industry."

Green admitted the RET is constantly haunted by the spectre of change, with further reviews and amendments always a threat.

He instead urged both parties to commit to keeping the scheme in place in an effort to allow renewable technology to flourish and deliver clean energy at an affordable cost.

However, the CEC chief executive claimed it was disappointing that money would be taken away from the Clean Technology Innovation Program (CTIP).

The government has revealed the early switch to emissions trading will cost in the region of $3.8 billion, with $167 million in unallocated funding under the CTIP being withdrawn to help plug this gap.

"The Clean Technology Innovation Program has been effective in helping to support businesses to improve their energy efficiency through the installation of solar power systems and other smarter energy solutions," Green stated.

Despite this, he said the fact that both major political parties have suggested they will continue current funding levels in the Australian Renewable Energy Agency is positive news.

For the first time in its history, Australia has a comprehensive suite of policies that supports the full lifecycle - from research to maturity - of sustainable technology, Green said.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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