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Australia: a polluter's paradise « Previous | |Next »
October 25, 2009

Melissa Fyfe's article in The Age-- Show of Power--- indicates that the coal lobby still isn't happy with the handouts they've won from the taxpayer with respect to the cap and trade scheme.

The political context for this is that cap-and-trade has been met with harsh resistance--from the Coalition, business groups, and conservative activists. The scientific context is that we are nearing—if we haven't already passed—the tipping point at which the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere becomes so high that feedback loops will cause it to keep increasing on its own even if humans never emit another CO2 molecule again. However, many Australian's still think otherwise--they are in denial:

SpoonerETS.jpg As part of its strategy to block reform the coal lobby have so captured the Victorian State Government that it is now the greatest defender of the coal fired stations attempts to secure ever more compensation for Victoria's old brown coal-fired stations in the emissions trading scheme.

The Victorian Government's brief (negotiations take place directly between group elites and the government as they not involve individual members of the legislature) is to ensure that billions of dollars of public money go to international companies who, for years, have polluted with no cost and known, for at least a decade, that a carbon price was coming. It is the same with SA, Queensland and NSW--all are gaming the ever so modest reforms of the Rudd Government to the point when there will be little to no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Allied to the state Governments resistance to reform is the Coalition. According to Josh Gordon in The Age their amendments aim to protect the polluting coal-fired power plants and other heavy emitters from rises in emissions targets for at least a decade. These amendments are currently being considered by the Rudd Government.Josh Gordon goes to say that:

The changes effectively mean heavy emitters would be guaranteed an emissions target until 2021, and would have at least some certainty until 2031, allowing more investment in coal.The Coalition wants federal ministers to be given special discretionary powers to provide up to five years of free emissions permits to new power projects.

'New power projects' should be interpreted as new coal fired stations. Coal is king in Australia. Australia mouths rhetoric on needing to reduce greenhouse gases on the world stage, whilst quietly adding to the problem. Though its political leaders say that global warming is a real problem their behind the scene actions indicate that it does not deserve a serious response.

Our political system is not going to deliver. There is no real intention to do anything about substantive about shifting to a low carbon economy. What will the ALP do with Turnbull's amendments? Roll over? Why bother? Even if the amendments are accepted, a majority of Coalition senators (23 out of 37) are deemed likely to either fail to vote or to vote against any legislation introduced before the December Copenhagen summit. They reckon it is a good issue to use against the Rudd Government.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:29 AM | | Comments (2)


The Climate Institute along with the ACF, has been holding the line on support for the Rudd Government's CPRS.

Surely any move by Rudd/Wong to agreeing to the Coalition's amendments for further concessions to polluters would be a step too far for the Climate Institute and ACF. They have to put some distance between themselves+ Rudd Labor on climate change to retain their credibility?

During the 11 plus years of the dark ages the ALP became so habituated to surrender as a form of 'debate' that it has lost all real political awareness of the significance of it's electoral success in '07.
Rather than try to stand for those principles and policies that actually gained it the necessary public support to win the election it has continued, in Pavlovian fashion, to surrender at the slightest sign of opposition from the real opposition, the media and, in the case of the pollution issue, the polluters.
Instead of standing up and casually informing the polluters that it, the ALP, won the election and has a solid public majority support behind it, it has capitulated to the mere threat of the political muscle of the polluters.
It has emasculated its CPRS/ETS to the point of near total ineffectualness in the face of the polluters' bluster.

And then the polluters have kicked them in public anyway.

For no gain the ALP has suffered ongoing pain.

I really wish some of the alleged hard line pragmatists had a basic understanding of how to haggle.
Eric Idle, from 'Life of Brian', should have been engaged as a 'negotiations consultant'.
Like Brian being relentrlessly pursued by a Roman hit squad the polluters would have rapidly had to face the reality that they were no longer in the driver's seat as during the dark ages and the ALP could have started their ETS targets at a much higher stringency and allowed, perhaps, the polluters to bargain them down just a little.