July 29, 2008 / 7:35 AM / 10 years ago

Australians strongly back carbon trade scheme: poll

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australians overwhelmingly back government plans to introduce one of the world’s biggest carbon trading schemes, a poll found on Tuesday, despite a lack of detail about how much it will cost and how it will work.

More than eight in 10 people supported carbon trading, with 60 percent backing the introduction of a scheme even if other major polluting countries refused to cut their emissions, a Newspoll in The Australian newspaper showed.

The poll of 1,200 people, the second in a week showing strong support for carbon trading, comes after the government unveiled plans this month for one of the world’s most comprehensive carbon trading schemes, to start from July 1, 2010.

The centre-left government swept to power last year on the back of fury among working voters at rising prices after 11 years of conservative rule.

“Australians understand that this will be a tough economic reform, but it is essential for our continued economic prosperity,” Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said on Tuesday.

Australia produces about 1.5 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. Its reliance on coal for generating electricity makes it the world’s biggest per-person polluter, with five times more emissions per head than China.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd won power in part by promising to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding limits on emissions from developed countries, and to cut emissions by 60 percent of 2000 levels by 2050.

His government has yet to detail what caps it will put on carbon pollution, blamed for global warming, how much it expects business to pay for emission permits, or detail compensation for consumers and business for higher costs.

Wong, in a speech to Australia’s clean energy council, said 27 European nations were involved in emissions trading schemes, while 28 states and provinces in the United States and Canada were introducing carbon trading schemes.

Australia will finalize details of its carbon trading scheme later this year, with legislation to go before the national parliament in early 2009.

Conservative opposition leader Brendan Nelson said on Tuesday the government should delay the carbon trading scheme for two years until it was clear what the world’s major polluters would do to cut their emissions.

Nelson told reporters Australia would lose jobs and the $1 trillion economy would suffer if carbon trading was introduced and other big polluters like India, China and the United States did not take strong action to slash their emissions.

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