The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) believes implementing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2010 is too early and has called on Minister for Climate Change Penny Wong to open up broader debate about global warming and the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

“Before GST was introduced, it was debated going into an election and then after an election during the legislative process. The Rudd Government is calling ETS the biggest economic shift since the introduction of GST, yet they plan to legislate within 12 months and implement by 2010. It is simply too soon,” says ARA executive director Richard Evans.

“Contrary to the discussion surrounding the introduction of GST, there has been no debate regarding the science behind the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The government’s rhetoric and dismissive scare tactics are diluting any doubts about the impact of carbon pollution on climate change.

Evans quotes rocket scientist and climate change expert David Evans – who produced FullCAM, which is used by the Australian Government to calculate its land-use carbon accounts for the Kyoto Protocol – who has publicly stated most of the public and key decision makers are not aware of the most basic, salient facts about the causes of global warming and that there is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming.

“The real inconvenient truth for the Rudd Government may be that science doesn’t back up the theory behind ETS. We’re very concerned about the costs of ETS being passed onto consumers along the entire supply chain. A very real question to ask is the likely impact of ETS on the cost of a basket of food,” he says.

Evans adds that it will significantly impact retailers who are heavy energy users, particularly when refrigeration of groceries is taken into account, but retailers have been ignored in terms of financial offsets and rebates.

 “There has been too much passive discussion surrounding ETS and not enough questioning. This is the biggest economic shift since GST and it is time for all Australians to roll their sleeves up and get involved in this debate rather than just accept the current dismissive ideological narrative,” he says.