Small businesses are worried they will suffer under emissions trading and have delivered a blunt message to the federal government – consider nuclear power.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents more than 350,000 businesses, carried the concerns of business to the federal government today.

The Chamber wants nuclear power on the table as a smart way to tackle climate change.

“Nuclear power provides Australia with a low-cost abatement option compared with other technologies,” the Chamber said in a formal submission to the government.

The submission said emissions trading “should include all technologies in Australia’s energy mix, including nuclear power”.

Australia has high per-capita emissions because of a heavy reliance on coal-fired electricity, the submission noted.

It said comparable countries had lower per-capita emissions because they used nuclear power, which is not available here.

The Chamber said it supported emissions trading, but warned it could hurt the profits of many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Emissions trading will levy a tax on carbon pollution from 2010.

SMEs will probably have to pay more for electricity and some transport fuels.

The Chamber said some firms would not be able to pass on the costs to consumers, and might go bust.

Many SMEs could not shift offshore, downsize, or invest heavily in adapting to emissions trading, the Chamber said.

The submission was made in response to the government’s green paper on climate change, which set out plans for how emissions trading could work.

The Chamber wants agriculture included eventually, and has reservations about a plan to shield transport fuels from emissions trading for at least the first year.

The government has suggested giving away 30 per cent of carbon permits to business and industry, but the Chamber wants more free permits.

It also wants emissions to be allowed to increase above any agreed cap, to allow for new investment.

The federal government says it does not support nuclear power.

The opposition would like nuclear power considered, but says any push must be bipartisan. There are varying degrees of support for nuclear power within the opposition.