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

beyond retail politics « Previous | |Next »
December 10, 2009

It is time to turn away from the hype and noise surrounding the politics of greenhouse and shift beyond where things have got stuck with mitigating greenhouse emissions. Copenhagen is going to impact on Australia.

Let us put to one side the retail politics talk about climate change advocates becoming the bullies of policy-making; or the aggressive political street fighters and their "weather-vane" leader taking the battle up to Labor with Abbott's army (Rudd's working families) by firing lots of arrows on energy tax, industrial relations (Workchoices), and wars overseas.


The Rudd Government's attempt at a cap and trade system --the CPRS-- is a dud. It gives too much to the polluters, doesn't do much by way of mitigation and won't help to make the transition to a lower carbon economy. Why defend it?

Stuart Rosewarne and James Goodman make the case. On the first point they state that:

In agreeing to increase compensation for the energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries, maintaining the addition of the LNG industry to the list of deserving polluters, incorporating the coal-mining sector into the compensation package, and increasing the assistance to electricity generators, the cost of the CPRS has grown beyond all expectations. Add to this equation the cost of including the faux carbon permits, the Kyoto-non-compliant carbon offsets, and we are looking at a budgetary burden that would be carried by all Australians.

The GPRS does little more than reward the big polluters that have invested so little in emissions abatement over the years that have followed the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol.

Secondly, the proposed "cap-and-trade" system isn't likely to have any real material effect in reducing Australia's contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions. Rosewarne and Goodman say:

To be brutally honest, it is unclear as to how it would do so; in fact, the scheme's design in accepting that economic growth will be sustained presumes that it will not do so. In some respects, expanding the acceptable forms of carbon offsets could actually exacerbate emissions pressures by rewarding polluters. This would be the case, for instance, when agricultural land is cleared, and no penalties imposed, and the land then reforested and the landholders rewarded with carbon permits.

It's a dud. We have to start again. Will our politics allow this? To discuss closing down the high-emitting South Australian station Playford B. T and the Victorian Latrobe Valley generators Yallourn and Hazelwood.Then replace them with geothermal gas fired turbines. Sounds sensible.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:25 AM | | Comments (10)


Agree completely; the only people giving it any kind of enthusiastic support are the ones who are obsessed with politics-as-point-scoring and love to chortle about wedging and other juvenile matters.

Being a watermelon type who still holds pro ALP lingering loyalties I'd love to defend the ALP ETS.

I can't.

same with me. I choke when I try.

"Weather -vane+ Abbott's Coalition Street fighters with killer instincts look and act like the walking dead to me. They are in danger of becoming anti-science ideologues parroting right-wing talking points.

Those talking points come from coal-dependent utilities and power generators working in part to discredit climate change science and to prevent regulations that might damage coal-related industries. The spin is that climate change won't be bad for us anyway and thataction on climate change is not warranted because of shaky science and flawed policy approaches.

Am glad Gary has raised this. All summed up in the notion of "retail politics".
In mitigation of Labor, it knows that the current discussion is about consciousness raising with the public, as much as being able to take a unilateral move on Carbon emmissions.
The evidence for this is revealed in the type and quality of the opposition attack on climate change policy.
Other wise it would have protected the carbon sinks that grow so elegantly in Tasmanian catchment areas, for example.
Labor learned not to preempt public opinion with the Refugee saga, over a decade. Move and you'll be kneecapped by opportunist populist ferals. So we move to spin.
With Copenhagen, our politicians, from BOTH sides, know full well climate change IS real, that it requires consensus action and that the thing becomes a defacto round of GATT style trade talks. Because, regardless of the emergency, people will still think first of self preservation, NIMBY and comparative advantage.
What Copenhagen also is about is "ambit"; what's going to happen when everyone else, ideally, is playing the game too.
So there is a big process of alignment to a changing landscape on between nations and between political parties and individuals in any given society.
A "Foyle's War" scenario, if you like.
So Labor can put up a policy that is an actual repudiation of good climate change policy, because the perceptions/beliefs battles feed into the ultimate costs and their apportionment debate, and have not yet been actually decided and not for good reasons.
We can guess that those least able to afford any costs and least deserving of penalties, will get lumbered with these, tho.

Same here.

Your opinions on the ETS are simply irrelevant. Good, bad or whatever, it does not matter. Rudds Government faces a hostile Senate. A Senate that will not pass any scheme whatsoever. That is the governments fault for why? Yes, Penny and co. have bent over backwards to accommodate the reactionaries and blockheads that determine our countries policy on this issue - you condemn them for that, I for one applaud her tireless efforts, even if they failed.

I didn't argue that it was the Rudd Governments fault that the Senate did not pass its GPRS legislation.Nor do I hold that. I argued that the scheme was a dud.

I agree with you that the GPRS scheme will not pass the Senate in February--not enough Liberals will cross the floor.

That and the forthcoming election opens up an opportunity to improve it so that better environmental outcomes are achieved. Since the debate on how that is best done is only just beginning the judgments we make now do matter.

Lots of Labor voters will be looking closely at the alternative parties and candidates at the next election.


The "economy" and "human society" are NOT the same thing? Right?