A significant section of business prefers an emissions trading scheme to a fixed carbon tax to cut Australia's greenhouse gases, a survey has found, as federal cabinet considers on Monday an earlier move to carbon trading.
The survey was commissioned by Businesses for a Clean Economy - a pro-carbon pricing industry group - with 570 companies approached from among its own members, the ASX 100, and those paying the carbon tax. All up, 180 responses were received.
Asked to consider their support for a carbon price to reduce Australia's emissions, 64.7 per cent of respondents said they favoured a trading scheme with a floating price, while only 28.8 per cent favoured a fixed tax.
The survey, conducted by consultants AECOM, suggested little support for the Coalition's direct action climate policy. Only 3.3 per cent said they did not want any form of carbon price, and another 3.3 per cent said they were unsure.
Monday will mark the one year anniversary of the carbon price taking effect, which was negotiated between Labor, the Greens and independent MPs by former prime minister Julia Gillard. The price for emitting a tonne of greenhouse gas will also rise on Monday from $23 to $24.15.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the scheme's future would be a significant issue when his new cabinet met. Mr Rudd had previously indicated his support for ending a three-year fixed-tax period early, bringing forward an emissions trading scheme with a floating price.
If implemented, the price would likely fall from $24.15 a tonne to a mark close to the European carbon price of about $6. But it would have major budget implications, as it would slash billions of dollars from government revenue.
A number of lobby groups, such as the Australian Industry Group, called for the move, saying it would reduce business costs.
But former climate change minister Greg Combet said on Sunday that, while possible, moving to a floating price sooner would present significant administrative challenges.
Business for a Clean Economy spokeswoman Jennifer Lauber Patterson said the results showed a strong preference by business for a market-based carbon price.
''These results appear to be consistent with the Australian Industry Group's support for a move to a market-based trading scheme as the most effective way of achieving outcomes,'' she said.
Members of Business for a Clean Economy include Westpac, AGL, Ikea and multinationals Unilever, General Electric and Fujitsu.