By The Editor
In a speech this week, BHP Billiton Chairman Jac Nasser proposed a different, staggered method for reducing carbon output that focuses on individual sectors, which deserves much greater consideration.
As the chairman of Australia’s largest miner (and therefore one of our largest emitters of carbon dioxide), Mr Nasser and his company have been heavily involved in consultations with the Federal Government about the structure of the method for reducing carbon emissions.
In a speech to the Melbourne Mining Club on Monday, Mr Nasser promoted the merits of a ‘sectorial’ approach, where a different approach could be implemented for different parts of the economy.
For instance, Mr Nasser said different solutions could be devised for the power generation and transport industries, with another approach for normal households.
“There’s a mosaic of different alternatives, depending on the sector that you’re in,” he said. “The solutions for each sector may be completely different.”
The solutions would then be implemented at different times for a steady, ‘go slow’ approach to pricing carbon, until all parts of the economy were covered.
While Mr Nasser did not list what the potential solutions could entail, his theory is worth further exploration, and reduces the chances of there being winners and losers from a ‘catch all’ carbon tax, even if some sectors receive exemption or extra assistance.
It also reduces the chance of a sudden jolt to the economy if a carbon tax is introduced uniformly on the planned date of 1 July 2012, as announced earlier this year.
Mr Nasser said that BHP Billiton still believed “moving early” on carbon was important for Australia, but we shouldn’t “get into the trap” of thinking Australia’s behaviour would influence other countries.
“We have to do what’s right for us,” Mr Nasser said.
It’s a premise VECCI absolutely agrees with. As we’ve written before on the subject, reducing carbon emissions is a priority but the Government must not implement a carbon pricing scheme that will harm Australia’s competitiveness internationally, and we reinforce that message as the consultation process continues in earnest.