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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

business as usual « Previous | |Next »
August 22, 2008

So big business is still playing chicken little with the proposed emissions trading scheme. Anything close to a 10% cut in emissions by 2020 will devastate many industries, force the closure of big companies and disrupt electricity supplies due to generators closing, says the Business Council of Australia.

All that Australia can realistically afford, along with big compensation and lots of free emission permits, is a low carbon tax---no emissions cap--- until a global scheme is in place. Oh, and the renewable energy target scheme needs to be dumped along with retail price caps.

Pretty much nothing is left. Nothing about making the shift to a lower carbon economy. Nothing about innovation. Nothing about new investment in emission free energy generation. It's all about the end is nigh. No mention about the investment in new cleaner sources of energy (gas and geothermal) that is already taking place.

Other than nuclear power that is, say the Energy Users Association of Australia. Only nuclear power can provide the base load power (no mention of geothermal). A nuclear industry is necessary to ensure Australia's energy security, along with maximising uranium exports to newly developing nations. So there needs to be a removal of the ban on mining in WA, Queensland, NSW and Victoria. Ideology has to be pushed aside so a proper debate about energy can take place.

It's business as usual isn't it. So predictable. The same old lines repeated again and again. The Liberal Party is now singing from the same song sheet. Surprise, surprise.

Similarly for the Rudd Government. It's rhetoric creates an image of decisive action while in reality it plans to do very little on greenhouse. There are plenty of climate change sceptics in its ranks (eg.,Martin Ferguson) , many are running scared of the electoral consequences of harming carbon-based industries (eg.,Joel Fitzgibbon) and the unions (eg., Australian Workers Union) are playing a spoiling role of soft pedalling on greenhouse policy.

It's mostly spin and symbolism on this issue ---just like it is with water. The Business Council seems to have reached its dire conclusions by assuming its businesses have no scope to pass to customers the cost of the emission permits they'll need to buy, no scope to eliminate wastefulness in their use of fossil fuels and no scope to reduce the need for permits by improving their technology. Strange assumptions.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:16 AM | | Comments (14)


Business has rejected the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme. Big business looks increasingly hostile.

I think
article says it all.

These guys are back in the dark ages, real business has moved on.

And there was an item on Truthout today re how every square inch of Grand Canyon country is being explored for uranium.

I love the way nuclear spruikers are always saying it's time to put ideology aside, assuming that it's the ideology other than their own which will get sidelined.

John Hewson surprised me on Lateline last night saying that the range of new innovations and technologies would create jobs and wealth ratehr than dimish it, and that the 'fast movers' have already secured a strategic platform to profit from the ensuing shift to renewable energy etc. - Thinking like a REAL economist for once.

It always amazes me that the individuals who forecast economic doom are the same ones who tout and innovation as the wellspring of wealth and adaptability as the cornerstone of laissez-faire economics. Can't have it both ways, guys.

Thats the trouble with failed pollies. They seem to hang around for eternity trying to be taken serwewously

Sure, Les, but in Hewson's case his stance on this that is interesting. Here's a guy whose economic theory are about as neoclassically orthodox and libertarian as you can get (the 'feral abacus') saying that proactively addressing climate change may not necessarily mean companies going under, unemplyment and general economic doom. I don't see any covert reason for him adoptiing this stance.

Hewson on Q and A was enthusing about how he'd redesign the whole country around renewables if it was up to him. If we have to hear from ex-leaders I'd rather hear Hewson than Howard.

Hewson thinks for himself on policy issues and is able to keep up to date on issues and keeps up to date. Howard, in contrast, seems to be trapped in the past and just repeats his old positions with lots of scare talk.

This will change now that Parliament is sitting and we conflicts over government legislation in the Senate and a Senate that is determined to push its own policy agenda. So the problems for the Rudd Government will fill the political vacuum.

Ross Gittens has an op-ed in The Age on rent seeking business on climate change:

For a while, it looked as if our big-business people accepted the need for Australia to do something serious about climate change, wanted our government to show leadership, and were prepared to play their part and shoulder their share of the burden.
But no. Last week's plea for special treatment by the Business Council of Australia was just the latest in a long line of business lobby group responses to the green paper on a carbon pollution reduction scheme, all of them predicting death and destruction unless they were let off the hook.

Without a bigger handout from government, Australian business will just lie down and die.

what did surprise me was the op-ed in the Australian by Craig Emerson, the Small Business Minister. The op-ed expressed the predominantly Hayekian, green-sceptic philosophy of the Australian Right.

Emerson set new growth theory against public investment, and environmental sustainability against Third World poverty alleviation, and then labelled one side the Enlightenment and the other superstition.

So the right wing of the ALP is a mixture of Milton Friedman, Bjorn Lomborg and Janet Albrechtsen.

Big business thumbs the alarm drum with loud cheers from The Australian's commentators whilst there is big investment ($3 billion) in new energy in natural gas power stations by Santos, BHP and Origin. Solar power plants are also being built (Mildura) and 4 are being considered.

The reality is that it is unlikely that new brown coal fired power stations will be built unless they can sequester their carbon monoxide.

So the shift to new energy generation has already begun. The aluminum industry in Victoria, which has relied on cheap power from brown coal, will have to get used to higher energy prices and become more efficient.

Gary = that is a scary combination. Hardly surprising. This thing has caught many people off guard and it's quite amusing wtching / reading our leaders and thinkers grappling with it. It is a textbook 'political economy' kinda issue.

I feel that a neglected aspect of this debate is our (humanity's) dependence on fossil fuel / oil for eneergy, especially in terms of the moral outrages it periodically causes (Iraq, Darfur, the Caucasus...). this is another, hitherto relatively unexplored dimension of the conundrum....

yeah i I thought that Emerson's op-ed was a joke when I first read it. Then I realized he was serious. He's always been part of the free market set--being an economist and all. But to label the attempt to reduce greenhouse pollution through an emissions trading scheme (the market) as irrational (superstition) really does show no understanding of the eco-Enlightenment trying to make a better world through reform based on scientific knowledge.

It is scary that these guys are helping to run the show.