Emissions plan must maintain industry competitiveness

Posted by Josette Dunn on 26th July 2010

Australia’s emissions reduction policy must maintain the competitiveness of Australian export and import-competing industries – such as food and grocery – without exposing them to costs their competitors don’t face, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said on Friday.Responding to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s announcement on climate change, AFGC agreed with a national consultative approach to emissions reduction that does not give any country an unfair competitive advantage over Australia.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said a national emission framework is one of the most critical and complex policy development processes in decades and Australia must get it right.

“AFGC strongly supports measures to provide incentives improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. To achieve this, industry supports a consumption-based rather than a production-based approach,” Ms Carnell said.

“The impacts of climate change, including increased costs for energy, transport and raw materials and reduced availability of water mean that a comprehensive sustainability policy is critical.”

Ms Carnell said with recent increases in food and grocery imports, leading manufacturers are under constant pressure to consider alternative locations overseas, which undermines the future viability of food and grocery manufacturing industry in Australia.

The food and grocery is Australia’s largest manufacturing sector, worth more than $100 billion annually in turn-over to the nation and accounts for 9 per cent of Australia’s international trade valued at 449 billion in 2008-09.

Industry also supports the Prime Minister’s national consultative method to the issue to ensure there is a transparent and whole of community and industry approach.

“We would hope that the food and grocery sector will be part of the consultative approach after previously being overlooked in the development of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS),” Ms Carnell said.

Leading food and grocery companies are already proactively reducing their carbon and water footprints. The Total greenhouse gas emissions for the industry was equivalent to about 2 per cent of Australia’s total – with transport being about 10 per cent.