Federal Labor says its emissions reduction policy is impossible to cost as businesses will take the reins on how to reduce their own pollution.
The party’s climate change spokesman Mark Butler has hit back at the coalition’s latest modelling, saying the figures are “utterly ridiculous”.
“It is inherently impossible to model in a precise way, because what we’re doing is leaving this up to business,” he told ABC News on Wednesday.
“That’s what business has asked us to do.”
Businesses asked for the lowest cost range of offsets and can also change how they operate to reduce pollution, he added.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has pointed to analysis by his policy team putting the cost for business between $13 billion and $26 billion over 10 years under Labor’s measures.
Mr Butler said the modelling appeared to be based on “ridiculous” assumptions.
“It’s all rubbish. This is a rolling series of scare campaigns by the government based on dodgy modelling buttressed often by blatant lies from the government,” he said.
Mr Butler said the claims assumed not a single company would do anything to reduce emissions in Australia and that the offsets would cost four times what the government’s own “climate solutions” modelling suggested.
Labor is proposing an emissions reduction target of 45 per cent by 2030 on 2005 levels, compared to the coalition’s goal of a 26 per cent reduction.
Mr Frydenberg has demanded Labor leader Bill Shorten reveal the economic cost of higher targets.
“It’s time he came clean with the Australian people and told him the true cost of his policies,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
The cost of Labor’s policy largely weighs on the price of international carbon offsets, which the top 250 polluters can buy if they don’t adequately reduce their pollution.
Global head of special projects at Bloomberg New Energy Finance Kobad Bhavnagri says it’s impossible to know the price of international offsets past 2020 as the United Nations hasn’t developed the rules to govern the market.
Mr Bhavnagri says forecasts are always overestimated.
“That is because forecasters like me cannot anticipate human ingenuity and innovation,” he told AAP.
“But experience has clearly shown, that once goals are set, innovators and businesses get to work, and always find cheaper and better ways to do things.”
He says it could be cheapest to stay away from overseas credits and stick locally.
“Australia has some of the best renewable energy resources in the world, lots of low hanging fruit in energy-efficiency and a vast land sector for agriculture and forestry based credits,” he said.
“Political turmoil” has prevented Australia’s low-carbon industries from developing, he added.