Australia’s national employer association Ai Group has called for changes to the rules limiting industry-produced emissions, in its recent submission to the Federal Government’s Department of Energy, Environment, Climate Change and Water (DCCEEW).

The submission, titled Securing Safeguard Mechanism Reforms Consultation Paper, advocates for greater flexibility to the Clean Energy Regulator’s (CER) Safeguard Mechanism, which sets emissions caps for industrial carbon emitters.

The proposed changes would address Ai Group’s concern that onerous domestic obligations could reduce the global competitiveness of local industry.

Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Wilcox, said though current limitations were adequate in the short term, they were incomplete and unfair for the long term.

“Australia needs the revamped Safeguard, and we need to ensure that it can resolve competitiveness risks as they arise. The Government’s current menu of trade exposure options within the Safeguard is adequate for the short term,” Mr Wilcox said.

“More will be needed by the second half of this decade: a solution that is more complete, sustainable and fair.

“In the meantime, there is much to be done to bed down an enhanced Safeguard. Access to a wider range of abatement opportunities from across Australia and overseas, and especially from the automatic issuance of credits to Safeguard facilities that beat their baselines, is essential.

“The greater this flexibility, the less that emissions cuts are constrained by the practical limits on what any one facility can do within its fenceline at a given moment.

Mr Wilcox said industry had long been concerned about the costs current emissions rules impose on individual facilities and businesses.

“Meeting Australia’s emissions goals for 2030 and beyond is a big task. New clean technology and evolving markets are making some of the necessary emissions cuts cheap or free. Others are going to come at a cost,” he said.

“Every sign is that these costs will be manageable and well worthwhile for the nation as a whole, especially given the increasingly visible costs of climate change itself.

“But industry has long worried about the risk that individual facilities and businesses are caught in the pinch between the climate policy costs they may bear and the costs facing their international competitors.

“The fear has been that lost competitiveness from globally uneven climate policies sees activity shift out of Australia, losing us jobs without lowering world emissions.”

Read Ai Groups submission to the Department of Energy, Environment, Climate Change and Water, here.

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