Australia Awards $512 Million in Contracts Under Emissions Plan

The Australian government awarded 107 carbon-abatement contracts to mark the start of its A$2.55 billion ($2 billion) program to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

The contracts worth A$660 million aim to deliver more than 47 million metric tons of abatement, according to a statement Thursday from the government’s Clean Energy Regulator. The average price of per-ton abatement was A$13.95.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the Emissions Reduction Fund will allow Australia to achieve its target of a 5 percent cut by the end of the decade. The program replaces a national carbon tax, which Abbott scrapped last year.

The contracts were awarded to 43 contractors covering 144 projects, the regulator said. “The majority applied under sequestration methods, and landfill and alternative waste treatment methods.”

The fund is aimed at lowering emissions through projects that improve energy efficiency, capture landfill gas, upgrade commercial buildings, improve soil, manage fires in savanna grasslands and plant trees, according to the government.

Groups such as the Sydney-based Climate Institute have argued that the government’s fund won’t be sufficient to meet Australia’s 2020 emissions target.

“The government’s climate ambition and policies are already being questioned, with a clear indication that our major trading partners do not think that we have a credible policy or pathway for achieving any significant pollution target,” according to an institute statement.

In the auctions, companies submit bids saying how much their emissions cuts will cost per ton, with the government picking the lowest-cost projects. The government will set a ceiling price, only considering bids below that level.

About 41 million tons of emissions cuts were expected to be offered in the first auction, with less than 25 percent, or 9 million tons, forecast to be successful, according to a statement last week from research firm RepuTex.

The auction was held on April 15 and April 16.

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