A Fairfax Media survey of 35 prominent university and business economists found only two believed direct action was the better way to limit Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. Thirty - or 86 per cent - favoured the existing carbon price scheme. Three rejected both schemes.


Internationally renowned Australian economist Justin Wolfers, of the Washington-based Brookings Institution and the University of Michigan, said he was surprised that any economists would opt for direct action, under which the government will pay for emissions cuts by businesses and farmers from a budget worth $2.88 billion over four years.


Professor Wolfers said direct action would involve more economic disruption but have a lesser environmental pay-off than an emissions trading scheme, under which big emitters must pay for their pollution.