Local govenrment calls for changes to the CPRS

By Angela Dorizas

The inclusion of waste emissions in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is unfair on councils and communities, local government claims.

In a submission on the draft Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) legislation, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has called on the Federal Government to amend the inclusion of waste in the CPRS.

ALGA is concerned about the measurement of emissions arising from waste, the inclusion of past waste or ‘legacy waste’ and the proposed reduction in the size of waste facilities covered by the scheme.

ALGA president Cr Geoff Lake said local government generally supported the Federal Government’s plan to establish the CPRS, but was concerned about the potential impacts on councils and their communities.

“All households across Australia can expect to be hit by increased waste disposal costs regardless of whether their council owns and operates a landfill site,” Cr Lake said.

“ALGA supports a universal scheme but believes the Government has not addressed the concerns of councils and the waste industry in relation to how emissions from waste can be measured reliably.”

Drawing upon the findings of Professor Ross Garnaut, Cr Lake said measuring carbon emissions generated from waste was so problematic that it had not been included in any other emission trading scheme overseas.

“Professor Garnaut recommends other policies to encourage mitigation in the waste sector ought to be pursued prior to the inclusion of waste in the Australian scheme,” he said, adding that this was the preferred approach of local government.

Cr Lake also said that the inclusion of legacy waste in the CPRS was “unfair” on councils because it would force communities to retrospectively pay for past waste.

“It makes no sense to force present and future generations to pay for waste discarded prior to the commencement of the scheme, and in many cases, long before climate change was even acknowledged as an issue by the Australian Government,” he said.

“Based on research done by Hyder Consulting, we estimate that the inclusion of legacy waste will cost households up to an additional $25 a year in extra charges.

“No other industry is expected to pay for its past activity and waste should not be an exception.”

On the issue of landfill reduction, ALGA has called on the Federal Government to take a different approach.

“Following recent changes, the CPRS will now potentially capture many small landfills because of the Government’s fears of operators engaging in waste diversion,” Cr Lake said.

“We believe such a diversion is unlikely and there are better arrangements that could be used to mitigate against this happening.”

Cr Lake said the inclusion of small landfills would increase costs for regional councils, with little to no reduction in emissions.

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