Factbox: Australia's competing carbon schemes

CANBERRA Tue Feb 2, 2010 10:03am EST

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia's opposition unveiled a rival carbon reduction plan on Tuesday to compete with the government's proposed emissions trade scheme, already rejected twice and presented a third time to parliament.

Here are the main points of both the government and conservative schemes, which voters may decide on during elections due later this year:

GOVERNMENT

* Carbon trading to start in July 2011. About 1,000 of Australia's biggest polluting companies to buy carbon permits, covering 75 percent of national emissions.

* An unconditional emissions cut of 5 percent by 2020, based on 2000 levels. The "cap-and-trade" scheme requires polluters to buy a permit for every tonne of carbon they produce.

* A flat carbon fee of A$10-a-tonne ($9) on start-up. Full auctioning and trading of permits to start from 2012. The government estimates a carbon price of A$26 a tonne in 2012-13.

* Compensation for businesses and households, with money raised from permits helping taxpayers cope with higher fuel and electricity costs. Coal sector to get A$1.5 billion in transitional assistance over five years.

* High-polluting exporting companies to receive up to 94.5 percent of their carbon permits for free, with moderate exporting emitters to receive 66 percent of permits free. The rate of free permits declines at 1.3 percent a year.

* Electricity sector to get A$7.3 billion in value of permits, with A$1.1 billion allocated to assist medium and large manufacturing and mining businesses. Farmers exempt from the scheme, but able to take part in carbon offset market.

OPPOSITION

* Emissions cut of 5 percent by 2020, based on 1990 levels, through "direct action" incentives encouraging people to reduce land clearing, improve soils and plant 20 million extra trees.

* A new Emissions Reduction Fund, to start in 2011-12, costed at A$3.2 billion over the first four years.

* Target 140 million tonnes of carbon abatement by 2020.

* Unspecified incentives for old and inefficient coal-fired power stations to lower emissions.

* Businesses reducing emissions below a baseline "business-as-usual" level are able to sell carbon abatement to government, providing financial incentive to cut CO2. Unspecified penalties for exceeding agreed business-as-usual caps.

* Rebates worth A$1,000 to encourage solar panel installation, capped at 100,000 a year and aiming for 1 million extra solar energy roofs by 2020. Up to 125 solar projects in schools and communities, plus 25 geothermal or tidal "micro" projects.

* Replenish soils through bio-sequestration, delivering about 85 million tonnes a year of carbon abatement by 2020, funded through the Emissions Reduction Fund.

($1=A$1.12)

(Reporting by Rob Taylor)

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