Business Council Split On Protocol
Annabel Day With Aap

24 May 2004
Australian Financial Review
2004 Copyright John Fairfax Holdings Limited.

The country's peak business body, the Business Council of Australia , is split over whether Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol even after Russia moved closer to ratifying it.

The federal government remains deaf to demands from the $16 billion renewable energy sector that Australia become a party to the agreement.

"Whatever Russia decides will not affect [our] decision because Australia will decide whatever is in the best interests of Australia," a spokesman for federal environment minister David Kemp said.

BCA spokesman Mark Triffitt said the Russian ratification had little impact because it had been "on the cards for a long time".

To become legally binding, the protocol must be ratified by 55 developed countries, which account for 55 per cent of emissions.

The Australian government has said it is committed to reaching the reductions set by the protocol, but will not ratify it because future targets may become more onerous and major emitters such as the United States are yet to sign up.

Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy executive director Ric Brazzale accused the government of marginalising sustainable energy exporters and carbon credit producers by not ratifying the agreement.

Australian companies some of which already have contracts to sell carbon credits to offshore emitters could be locked out of the lucrative carbon credit market.

They would also face greater competition from companies who through Kyoto schemes like the Clean Development Mechanism could offer lower prices to customers in developing nations in exchange for carbon credits to be on-sold to their own government, he said.