Under the Coalition’s proposed voluntary carbon market additional energy efficiency measures by business, and the commercial building sector would all get immediate recognition for their emissions cuts

By Lynne Blundell

The Coalition may not be scoring many points for its refusal to budge on the Government’s emissions trading scheme but its push for a voluntary carbon market has met with approval from the green building sector and organisations keen to see greater recognition of voluntary action to reduce emissions.

Under the Coalition’s proposed scheme a government-authorised voluntary
carbon market would start from 1 January 2010. Based on the Chicago Climate Exchange, the scheme would allow individuals and businesses to bank carbon credits and use them when and if emissions trading starts.

Individuals and communities, agriculture, various forms of bio sequestration, additional energy efficiency measures by business, and the commercial building sector would all get immediate recognition for their emissions cuts.

GBCA chief executive Romilly Madew said that a Voluntary Carbon Market would allow the commercial building sector to fully participate in reducing its carbon emissions and be recognised for doing so.

“It’s vitally important that we introduce measures that support Australia’s
property and construction industries to improve energy efficiency in buildings and reduce Australia’s carbon footprint.”

Another group pushing for greater government commitment to voluntary reduction schemes is the Voluntary Carbon Markets Association (VCMA).

Formed in October 2008, The VCMA represents a broad range of organisations including the EPA Victoria, the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, green energy suppliers and community groups keen to see voluntary abatement.

President of the VCMA Ric Brazzale said: “It is important that families and progressive businesses who want to take actions to reduce their emissions are able to see the impact of their actions now, not in the future.”

Brazzale says it is encouraging that the Government has committed to make certain voluntary action tax deductible (through the establishment of a pledge fund) and will account for GreenPower sales above 2009 levels in setting future greenhouse targets under the CPRS.

But the VCMA is calling on the Government to formally address all the impediments to further voluntary action under the CPRS by:

•    recognising all verified GreenPower sales – currently the Government has agreed to count action only beyond 2009 levels of GreenPower which amounts to 1843 GWh/pa or 1.8 million tones a year of emmission reductions. VMCA says only recognising action beyond this level is short-changing these concerned families and businesses and is effectively expropriating this abatement for the benefit of polluting industries

•    recognising all verified and demonstrated voluntary action not just GreenPower sales

•    making greenhouse tax deductions available to all providers not just through the Government’s pledge fund.

“It is imperative to encourage voluntary action by individuals and business to achieve emissions reductions beyond relatively minor levels,” Brazzale said.

The association is urging the Government to allow carbon savings through “measurable and verified voluntary action” by households or business to extinguish emissions trading permits. Without this, it says, emissions trading “will effectively decimate the voluntary market in Australia”.

lblundell@thefifthestate.com.au