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Energy Companies, Actor Blanchett Push Australia on Carbon Plan

Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett
Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

May 30 (Bloomberg) -- A group of Australian energy companies and Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett called for urgent action to reduce carbon emissions as Prime Minister Julia Gillard struggles to win public support for such a plan.

Fifteen companies, including AGL Energy Ltd. and TRUenergy Holdings Pty, wrote to Gillard and opposition lawmakers yesterday, asking them to expedite climate-change legislation. The separate ad campaign, in which Blanchett asks Australians to “say yes” to climate laws, debuted yesterday.

Laws that would set a price on carbon are “widely recognized as the most efficient and effective way of reducing emissions,” Matthew Warren, head of the company group known as the Clean Energy Council, said in the e-mailed statement.

The campaigns take place as opinion polls show most voters oppose Gillard’s plan to begin an emissions trading system from next July. Her minority Labor government also needs to win support in parliament for the laws, which aim to reduce 2000 emissions by 5 percent by 2020.

The Blanchett ads were paid for by several environmental and labor groups including Greenpeace, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Australia has set a target of generating 20 percent of the nation’s energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020.

Business Opposition

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry reiterated its opposition to the government’s carbon plan yesterday. It also rejected the Business Council of Australia’s proposal last week for an introductory price of A$10 ($10.70) per metric ton.

The council, a group that consists of chief executive officers of Australia’s top 100 companies including BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd., made its proposals in a submission to the government on May 27. It also suggested that businesses should initially receive full compensation for the tax to ensure Australia’s policy to price greenhouse gas emissions doesn’t affect trade and investment.

The government has said it will compensate households and businesses whose costs increases as a result of the carbon tax. The annual impact on households of an A$30-per-ton carbon price, excluding petrol price concessions, would be A$863.20, according to preliminary Treasury estimates released on April 1 under an Australian Freedom of Information Act request. At A$20 a ton the cost would be A$577.20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gemma Daley in Canberra at gdaley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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