From Climate Spectator – 16 September 2010 – There can be no doubting now that a carbon price is back on the political agenda. Big business – or, more to the point, the biggest business – has spoken, and there is now no hiding from the issue.

BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers certainly made a dramatic intervention into the debate. He took the three pillars of the fossil fuel lobby’s defence of the status quo and threw them out the door. He didn’t just skirt around their Maginot Line, he ploughed straight through it. And he’s challenged the nation’s politicians to do something about it.

The three key elements from Kloppers speech was that it was clear that Australia did need to take strong action to reduce its emissions, it needed to look beyond coal and towards other energy sources, and it needed to do so to protect its international competitiveness.

The need for global action on climate change is not, apparently, just a left-wing conspiracy. And it is now, once again, a front page issue.

“We do believe that such a global initiative will eventually come and, when it does, Australia will need to have acted ahead of it to maintain its competitiveness,” he said.

The opportunity of Australia acting ahead of anyone may have already been lost, but you get the picture. Kloppers is now showing the sort of leadership from the biggest companies that has been so desperately lacking in the last 12 months.

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And what The Greens said:

“The  Australian Greens today welcomed BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers’ contribution to the carbon price and energy debate and urged Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to seize the opportunity to abandon his economically and environmentally damaging position instead of reverting to old slogans.”

Greens Deputy Leader Christine Milne said: “’I welcome Marius Kloppers’ acknowledgement that a carbon price is inevitable and that Australia should look beyond coal, but I emphasise that it will be the parliament in charge of designing any scheme this time, not lobbyists in ministerial offices.

“The focus of the parliament in this new process must be designing a carbon price that has both environmental and economic integrity, not being held hostage to the rent-seeking which destroyed the CPRS.

“I look forward to my first meeting with Greg Combet today to begin working towards that goal.

“The opposition’s continuing campaign against carbon pricing and renewable energy is undermining the Liberal and National Parties’ remaining economic credibility and putting them at odds with the community and business leaders.

“Tony Abbott’s continued insistence that a carbon price will drive companies offshore is directly at odds with Marius Kloppers’ statement yesterday that ‘failure [to think beyond just coal] will place us at a competitive disadvantage’ in the years ahead.

“Mr Kloppers is right to recognise that, if we refuse to make the transition to clean energy, we condemn Australia’s industry to becoming increasingly less competitive. The only way industries like aluminium will not go offshore is if they can be powered by renewable energy.

“Coal energy is the most expensive in the world if you interalise the costs of climate change.

“Mr Abbott should recognise this moment for the opportunity that it is for him to change his mind and drop his economically and environmentally backward opposition to carbon pricing.

“If the opposition joins the rest of the parliament in in-principle support for a carbon price, they are most welcome to nominate a member to the committee we are establishing to work towards that goal and play a constructive role in climate policy development.

“I am disappointed that, instead of taking that route, Greg Hunt has labelled this effort ‘a committee to talk about increasing electricity prices’, joining his leader in further undermining the opposition’s economic credibility.

“Meanwhile, California has just approved a massive 1000 MW of concentrating solar power, citing the economic and job creation benefits of the project as well as the environmental gains.

“The project is driven in part by both California’s ambitious renewable energy target and the Federal loan guarantee program. These are two sensible Greens policies I will be looking to raise with Minister Combet in the coming weeks and months.”