Polluters ready to sign up for Direct Action plan: govt

The federal government says its controversial Direct Action
scheme will begin in 2015 and businesses are ready to sign up to it.

News.com.au reports that the plan, which involves paying companies
to cut their carbon emissions, will begin with the first auction process in the
first quarter of 2015.

The scheme, which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 5 per
cent below 2000 levels by 2020, will cost $2.55 billion.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said there has already been
more interest in it than expected.

“So my message to business, to farmers and households
is very clear: the emissions reduction fund is open for business,” he told
Sky News on Sunday.

According to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, unlike carbon
pricing, Direct Action will achieve its aim without harming the economy.

“It’s modest and proportionate and it will involve, over
time, the government funding sensible proposals which the market will give to
us,” he said.

“We envisage they will involve more trees, better soils and
­smarter technology, and that’s the smart and effective way of dealing with
climate change.”

The scheme is opposed by the Opposition, the Greens, and the
broader environmental movement.

The SMH reports that a former adviser to John Howard
described Direct Action as a ‘Mickey Mouse scheme’.

Geoff Cousins, who is now president of the Australian
Conservation Foundation, told the ABC that the policy does not compel polluters
to take action if they do not chose to.

“What we’ve got to do is convince this government and
all political leaders in this country to take real action on this,” he
said.

“Not this Mickey Mouse scheme that has been stitched up
with the leader of a mining company.”