Carbon price not needed: energy minister

Rebecca Gredley
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Australia doesn’t need a carbon price as emissions levels are coming down, the energy minister insists after a major oil and gas producer called for one to help the climate.

Woodside Petroleum CEO Peter Coleman has joined mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto in calling for a price on carbon to help with emissions reduction targets and the transition to renewable energy.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor says the companies would benefit economically from putting a higher price on carbon.

“There is almost no other country in the world that has the credentials of Australia in reducing carbon emissions,” Mr Taylor told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“We are bringing emissions down, and we’re doing extremely well.”

While emissions in the electricity sector have decreased, other sectors continue to increase, driven by LNG production.

The latest government data showed overall greenhouse gas emissions climbed 1.3 per cent to their highest quarterly levels in eight years.

Woodside Petroleum had been an outspoken opponent of carbon pricing under Julia Gillard’s former Labor government.

However, its current chief Mr Coleman says investors are increasingly concerned with the company’s sustainability measures, and the issue should be dealt with through an appropriate global approach.

“We need a price on carbon. We need to ensure the most effective energy gets into the system,” he told the ABC on Tuesday evening.

“We don’t want to have perversive outcomes where lowest cost energy suppliers are competing against renewables, and we end up in a situation where we’ve invested a lot in renewables but in fact see no benefit from a carbon point of view.”

Industries such as shipping need to be incentivised to transition to cleaner energy, he adds.

“If you believe in the science or not really doesn’t matter,” Mr Coleman said.

“By the time the science is proven, it will be too late to act. So it’s prudent to act today.”

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