Europe carbon links potentially a boon for local traders

The government’s decision to link Australia’s future carbon price with Europe’s could be a boon for carbon-trading services in Australia, particularly as the market for the nascent commodity expands in the Asia-Pacific region.
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The connection to Europe’s established emissions pricing market will break down barriers between the two regions. Australian businesses competing in such a market will have an advantage as more Asian nations begin pricing greenhouse-gas emissions, industry representatives said.

The government’s move to hitch Australia’s future carbon price to the world’s biggest emissions trading market came as it decided to ditch its previous plan to set a minimum $15 price per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted once the fixed rate – currently at $23 a tonne – ends in 2015. The carbon tax kicked in on July 1 with the aim of prodding the biggest emitters to reduce emissions of the gas which is contributing to warming global temperatures.

Andrew Grant, managing director of CO2 Group, said the effort to connect emission trading links between Australia and Europe by 2018 “the most profound” aspect of yesterday’s announcement.

“If schemes aren’t linked, we can’t trade internationally so this is so much more beneficial,” Mr Graham said.

Regional push

The change will also give an edge to Australian clean energy firms in Southeast Asia, a region where Europe had dominated until the financial crisis had forced them to scale back their efforts, he said.

Australia had been “a Johnny-come-lately” into that region, but now that it was effectively in the same market, more business could flow, said Mr Grant.

CO2 Group, which provides carbon advisory and other related services, already has business in Singapore and New Zealand. Additional international links give the group an “ability to optimise our assets,” said Mr Grant.

Clean Energy Council deputy chief executive Kane Thornton said short-term price fluctuation around carbon pricing will give way to longer term consistency as Europe’s market is opened up.

“Even though removing the carbon price floor potentially opens us to greater volatility in the market, the link to a larger market covering some 530 million people will help to protect our emissions trading scheme from sudden changes in the price of carbon,” said Mr Thornton.

He sees a potential inflow of $20 billion in investment in low- or carbon-free energy projects that could generate 30,000 jobs over the next decade as a result of the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

Political risk

The chief risk for the renewable energy sector, he believes, is any watering down of the 20 per cent cut in carbon emissions to be achieved by 2020 through the government’s RET review.

“Any perceived benefits from tinkering with the scheme would be undermined by the signals that it sends to investors,” said Mr Thornton. The review concludes at the end of the year.

“We still have the political risk around government and a drastic change of policy,” he said.

Many large companies in Australia want an established market for their carbon exposure said Rob Fowler, who represents the International Emissions Trading Association in Australia and New Zealand.

Links with Europe will expand options for Australian companies to hedge their carbon pricing positions, Mr Fowler said. Further, it will expand opportunities for Australian carbon trading and carbon-offset businesses.

“If Australia can establish and maintain a European link and start to create relationships around carbon that reflect our trade relationships in Asia Pacific, we act as a real interesting pivot in the international carbon environment,” he said.

“Australia as a service provider in these sorts of professional areas has a good history,” said Mr Fowler. “It’s likely we’re going to create a useful financial services industry around that.”

Mr Fowler said Australia also benefited from having a well-regulated financial sector in the eyes of the global investors.

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Buckley overjoyed by Krakouer’s return

COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley says Andrew Krakouer’s return to the AFL this Saturday night will give his side a “massive fillip’.
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The Pies will be fighting to stay in the top four when they take on Essendon at the MCG after having lost their past two matches.

Buckley said Krakouer’s return from a knee reconstruction he underwent six months ago was remarkable.

“It’s a fantastic story,” Buckley said this morning. “Krak’s application to his recovery has been excellent and he has been through a fairly rollercoaster football career. Very public, the ups and downs of him coming in the best part of 10 years ago to where he is at this point.

“His form in the VFL has been excellent and really, despite anything that has happened during the year, he has just demanded selection. It’s a great position to be in as a match committee because there’s a bloke there through his own merits and performance needs to play. And he should come in confident from what he has been able to do.

“This club, this group, as every team has, has been through a fair few ups and downs through the course of the year and you’ve got to celebrate your mini-wins and successes. And seeing Krak back is a massive fillip for the boys.”

Krakouer served 16 months in prison for assault before his release in late 2009. He had a breakout year last season, playing 23 of 25 games for the Pies and kicking 35 goals, including three in the grand final. He also won the AFL Mark of the Year award.

But in February this year the club announced it had given Krakouer at least a month off, reportedly to deal with some personal issues.

He returned two weeks later to play in a VFL practice match, where he hurt his knee and afterwards had a full reconstruction.

“It’s a huge story,” Buckley said. “Even for him to come back and do what he did last year after his personal trials, it’s just any absolute credit to him with the adversity that he has faced and his ability to handle that, not perfectly.

“You’re not human if you can just handle it without emotion, without feeling, and just plough on. He has had his ups and downs and it has probably been more documented than a normal person should have to endure or handle.

“But that’s the strength of a football environment. We believe we’ve given fantastic support to Krak since he walked in the doors of the footy club at the beginning of last year and we’ve had fantastic service from him in return. And we’re really excited what the next period of time is for him and us.”

Buckley said Krakouer would most likely return to the forward line with time in the midfield.

Midfielder Sharrod Wellingham is in doubt to play after he left training early this morning. He didn’t try to handle the ball during the session, wearing bandages on his left hand after he split webbing.

Buckley said it was too early to rule Wellingham out. “It’s still mid-week and he has plenty of time to get over it.

“Clearly, ball handling is very important and he has stitches in at the moment and he’ll carry them into the game and it’s something he’s going to have to get used to.”

Buckley said captain Nick Maxwell and ruckman Darren Jolly were likely to play, having recovered from respective hip and elbow injuries.

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Wells, Grima unlikely for Giants clash

IT IS looking increasingly unlikely that Daniel Wells and Nathan Grima will play in North Melbourne’s final home-and-away game against bottom-placed Greater Western Sydney on Saturday.
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Roos coach Brad Scott said the Roos will take a strict “no-risk” policy with the key duo, and neither would play unless they can convince the coaching and medical staff they are “absolutely 100 per cent”.

Considering Wells was only scheduled to do “little bits and pieces” of today’s main training session at Aegis Park, it seems he would have to improve significantly to risk his injured calf on an interstate trip to Skoda Stadium.

“He is one that we would bring in if he is fit. He will train little bits and pieces today and then train fully with us on Friday and then we’ll probably make a decision later in the week,” Scott said of his reigning joint best-and-fairest winner.

“But there will be an absolute no-risk policy with him. He is either absolutely 100 per cent and ready to train or he won’t play.”

Important key defender Grima is in a similar situation, recovering from hamstring tendonitis.

“They have both made rapid improvement over the past three days. Ideally, we would like to play them so we won’t be holding them back if they are 100 per cent right to go,” he said.

“But we would be silly to take a risk if we weren’t convinced they didn’t have enough training under their belt.”

Scott said Wells and Grima would be the only potential changes, with the club’s match committee believing the players who lost to Fremantle last weekend deserved a chance to redeem themselves and build confidence ahead of next week’s first final.

“I doubt we will make any changes and if we do, there will only be minimal changes to the side this week,” the coach said.

“We’ll give the side another chance to go out and fix a few things that we need to fix and get some real momentum going into the finals series.”

Scott said the Roos could potentially attempt to manage the game time of some players with a view to finals.

“But you can’t plan that,” he said. “The only time we have ever contemplated using our sub to manage game time we got an injury in the first part of the game and it backfired straight away.”

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Australia ready to strike a deal with Nauru and PNG: Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has declared herself “on the same page” as Nauru and Papua New Guinea, despite concerns Labor’s new Pacific solution could see asylum seekers held indefinitely.
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Ms Gillard arrived this afternoon for the Pacific Island Forum in the Cook Islands.

She told reporters soon after landing she will meet the leaders of Nauru and PNG to hammer out agreements on reopening processing centres.

But she denied any difference had emerged with either country over the length of time people might be held.

“Our policy push here is to make sure people do not get any advantage from having got in a boat,” Ms Gillard said.

But she did not say how long people would typically wait for resettlement without attempting a voyage to Australia.

Nauru’s Foreign Minister Keiran Keke said he did not want to see people held indefinitely on Nauru, and joined PNG’s Prime Minister in saying Australia would be expected to settle people found to have genuine asylum claims.

Asylum seekers are far from the only issue on the agenda.

Ms Gillard said the forum would be discussing protecting the Pacific Ocean and building skills for people in the region — and she will also bring a personal focus on gender issues.

“As the only woman attending the forum – the only female leader – I will be focusing on gender equality,” Ms Gillard said.

The Pacific ranks worst in the world on representation of women in politics. When Australia and New Zealand are excluded, only 3.5 per cent of roles in the region are held by women.

Ms Gillard said gender issues mattered not just because men and women should be equal but the participation of women helped development.

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Grocon and unionists to meet on construction dispute

Union leaders and Grocon are set to meet tomorrow, as construction workers continue to block workers’ access to the Emporium construction site in Melbourne.
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Members of the Construction, Foresty, Mining and Energy Union have been at the Grocon site for a week, with violent scenes erupting yesterday in the city’s CBD between protesters – who have workplace safety concerns – and police.

Today, Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten announced he has ”brokered” private discussions between the warring parties.

He said Grocon head Daniel Grollo and the CFMEU Construction Division’s Dave Noonan had agreed to ”make themselves available” to meet on Thursday.

”The government is concerned about the dispute between Grocon and the CFMEU and the ugly scenes witnessed in recent days,” the Workplace Relations Minister said.

Yesterday, the Victorian Supreme Court extended an injunction restraining the CFMEU from blocking access to Grocon sites – which it has ignored. Mr Shorten has refused to pick a side in the debate, but has strongly condemned any violent activity.

”There can be no excuse for intimidation, violence and thuggery,” he said.

”I would expect the CFMEU to respect and comply with orders of the Victorian Supreme Court.”

Mr Shorten said that he believed the workplace safety matters underlying the Grocon and CFMEU dispute would be best resolved by conciliation.

”That is why I brokered private discussions between the parties on Monday this week,” Mr Shorten said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also weighed in on the dispute, warning violence should never be tolerated.

“Violence is always wrong in whatever setting,” Ms Gillard told reporters shortly after touching down in Cook Islands for a meeting of Pacific leaders.

But she warned Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s promise to bring back the building commission would be a backwards step.

“As a result of that people would see penalty rates end,” she said, also warning about the re-introduction of individual contracts.

with AAP, Daniel Flitton

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