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Market chaos won’t slow carbon scheme-Australia PM

Monday October 13, 2008 23:38:33 EDT

CANBERRA, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Australia’s plans to launch a carbon emissions trading scheme within two years will not be derailed by the global financial crisis, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Tuesday.
Australia’s second-largest oil and gas producer, Woodside Petroleum Ltd, this week told Rudd’s centre-left Labor government that global market volatility and bank credit paralysis should put emissions trading on hold. Rudd said the worst international financial crisis since the 1930s did not eclipse the danger of climate change, expected to have a greater impact on Australia’s $1 trillion coal and energy reliant economy than almost any other developed nation. ‘On emissions trading, our ambition remains 2010,’ Rudd told journalists while unveiling a A$10.4 billion ($7.3 billion) emergency stimulus package to protect Australia against any global recession.
‘Part of the government’s thinking is the calls from business for consistency and predictability in the future. Climate change is not going to go away,’ Rudd said. Woodside Chief Executive Don Voelte said his company and Chevron Corp were rethinking funding for future Liquefied Natural Gas projects worth more than $70 billion against a backdrop of global credit jitters and falling oil prices. Woodside, 34 percent-owned by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said on Monday no projects would be shelved, but Voelte warned emissions trading would bring more unrest to Australia’s economy and could cost jobs. ‘Heck, I think this is off the table. You cannot put something like that in and at this time until we get this whole fiscal chaos that’s going on in the world straightened out,’ he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television. Australia’s biggest business group has asked the government to shelve or delay the emissions scheme, saying it could be a ‘company killer’ and force firms out of business or offshore.
Australia is the world’s 16th biggest carbon polluter and produces about 1.5 percent of global emissions, but it is also the fourth largest per-capita emitter, with five times more carbon pollution per person than China. The government’s plan aims to curb carbon emissions by forcing 1,000 of Australia’s biggest polluting firms, including global miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto <RIO.AX>, to buy permits placing a cost on their emissions. ($1=A$1.48)
(Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Alex Richardson) 


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