Emissions auction hits critics out of park

Environment Minister Greg Hunt says everybody should be happy about the success of the government's emissions reduction fund.

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt believes results from the first auction of his $2.55 billion climate change policy has hit critics "out of the park".

But the opposition remains unconvinced about a plan they label a "colossal waste" of taxpayer money.

The government has purchased 47 million tonnes of abatement at the first auction of the emissions reduction fund, the vehicle it is using to meet Australia's five per cent carbon emissions reduction target by 2020.

It funded 144 projects run by 43 organisations at an average price of $13.95 per tonne.

Around a quarter of the fund's budget - or $660 million - was snapped up, mainly by projects already operating under the defunct carbon farming initiative.

Mr Hunt is heralding the auction a "stunning success" and proof Australia can meet its reduction targets.

"The critics have been hit out of the park," he told ABC radio on Friday, claiming everybody should be delighted."

But opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler is far from that.

"Taxpayers are not getting very good value for money," he said.

Under Labor's carbon tax, abandoned by the coalition in mid-2014, big polluters paid $23 per tonne of emissions to government.

Direct action works the opposite way with the government paying polluters not to emit CO2.

There are concerns over how quickly the $2.55 billion budget could be eroded and how many more taxpayer dollars might be needed.

Mr Hunt argues his policy is long term and shows the world how to reduce emissions without punitive measures.

Labor believes the policy cannot be effective without a nationwide discipline on carbon pollution that applies to the big polluters.

Mr Butler says any reductions made through the fund will be offset by increased emissions by Australia's energy companies to compensate for the government's attack on renewable energy.

Safeguard mechanisms, that punish big polluters for exceeding historical emissions levels, will be introduced to direct action in 2016.

The Climate Institute believes even with safeguards the policy can't achieve the "inadequate" five per cent target, let alone any post-2020 targets.

Meanwhile, new research shows a much-discussed 10-15 year hiatus in global warming will only account for 0.1 degree celsius difference in temperature rises.

That's small chunk of the five degrees expected by 2100 if nothing is done about carbon emissions.

"It's like a cold front that comes through during summer, it doesn't end the summer," Professor Matthew England from the Climate Change Research Centre said.

Source AAP

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