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How Australian opposition wants carbon laws changed

CANBERRA, July 24 (Reuters) - Australia's opposition Liberal Party on Friday outlined changes it wants in return for its support for the government's controversial carbon trade laws.

The package of 11 bills are set for a vote in parliament's upper house Senate on Aug 13, where they are likely to be defeated without major changes.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull said he might support the plan if the government amends the laws. [ID:nSP239277]

Following is a text of the key amendments outlined by Turnbull.

1 - An Australian Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) should offer no less protection for jobs, small business and industry than an American ETS which is being developed and is presently in the form of the Waxman Markey Bill which has been approved by the House of Representatives but is yet to pass the US Senate. The final form of any legislation may be materially different from Waxman Markey and will not be known until later in the year.

2 - To that end there must be an effective mechanism, such as a regular review by the Productivity Commission or a similar expert independent body, to ensure that the Australian ETS does not materially disadvantage Australian industries and workers relative to American industries and workers. The legislation must bind the Government to correct any disadvantage identified by the review process.

3 - In order to ensure that an Australian ETS does not simply result in futile carbon and production leakage - exporting the emissions and the jobs - Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed industries (EITEs) should at least be on a level playing field with the United States and other advanced economies and should therefore receive full compensation for higher energy costs until the bulk of their competitors (measured as in Waxman Markey by global market share) face a similar carbon cost.

4 - Fugitive methane emissions from coal mining should be treated in the same way as they are in the United States and Europe.

5 - As in the Waxman Markey legislation agricultural emissions should be excluded from the scheme and agricultural offsets (eg. biosequestration or green carbon) should be included. Australia's greatest near-term potential of reducing its CO2 emissions are to be found in the better management of our own landscape.

6 - The scheme design must ensure that general increases in electricity prices are no greater than comparable countries to minimise the impact on all trade exposed industries, to reduce the need to compensate for households and to avoid a needlessly high increase in taxation.

7 - In order to ensure continuity of electricity supply, electricity generators should be fairly and adequately compensated for loss of asset value to ensure capacity to invest in new abatement technology and to fund maintenance of existing facilities for energy security purposes.

8 - Effective incentives and/or credits must be established to capture the substantial abatement opportunities offered by energy efficiency, especially in buildings.

9 - There must be adequate incentives for voluntary action which can be added to Australia's 2020 target. (Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by David Fogarty)

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