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ALP bites the bullet on climate change? « Previous | |Next »
February 25, 2011

Whew. The Gillard Government has finally bitten the bullet on structural reform with its framework for a fixed carbon price and an emissions trading scheme to drive the switch to lower carbon economy. Or says that it has.

If it goes ahead it will be a momentous reform as Australia, is just about the world’s largest emitter per capita, and the Australian economy is powered by heavy-emitting fossil fuels – both for the energy that drives its industry and its transport, and the exports which are driving its wealth.

Government and opposition policy is for an unconditional 5 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from 2000 levels by 2020. Government policy also requires 15 per cent reduction if “major economies” agree to comparable reductions and 25 per cent if there’s global action sufficient to stabilise greenhouse gases at 450 parts per million. The Greens policy is for a 25 per cent unconditional reduction.

On February 9, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency released new projections for Australian emissions in 2020. These showed that without further policy action, emissions in 2020 would now be 24 per cent above 2000 levels. But they’re supposed to be 5 per cent below.

What we have on the table is effectively an agreement to have a discussion about the price; how long it will last; when, how, or if it will transition to a market price; which sectors are covered (there are options to opt in or opt out); the levels of compensation; or even if the electricity sector will have to deal with a carbon price or some sort of white certificate scheme based on emissions intensity.

It’s impossible to say yet whether the carbon price will drive large scale deployment to renewables and to a clean, green energy future. The range of prices being floated $10-25 a tonne of CO2 suggests that it probably won’t. The Green's Senator Christine Milne makes the point:

The carbon price is a very important invention in the market place but it is not going to be enough on its own to drive the transformation to renewable energy in the time frame that we need because we are unlikely to get a higher enough price to be able to do that. So we are still going to need the renewable energy target in my view we will still need a feed in tariff and so on.

Chris Ulhmann, from the ABC, strongly disagrees.

It is also unclear whether this agreement will be designed to reduce Australia’s contribution to climate change, or whether it’s a political fix that postpones the issue of emissions trading yet again. At this stage I'm inclined towards a political fix scenario until events indicate otherwise.

In this round the fight will be about politics — not policy, not evidence, and not science. The Coalition, the big polluters, mining industry and the conservative media will fight this policy to the death.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:57 AM | | Comments (10)


Not surprising that my pitiful local rag has gone off the deep end with this story...

BlueScope says carbon price could sound manufacturing's death knell

25 Feb, 2011
BlueScope's worst fears have been realised just days after warning a carbon tax would risk future investment in the Illawarra.

The company, which employs 3400 permanent staff and another 1500 contractors at the Port Kembla steelworks, has attacked plans to introduce a carbon pricing regime, claiming the Federal Government is "taxing and potentially killing" local manufacturing.

On Monday, BlueScope managing director and chief executive officer Paul O'Malley told the Mercury a carbon price would have serious ramifications...

BLOODY HELL! How on earth are we going to get anything sorted out with this sort of hysterical reporting??

Frankly I'm amazed that Gillard had the guts to even TALK about this issue. Once the billionaires get up to speed they are going to unload a serious barrage at the Labor govt. This is even bigger than the contentious resources super-profits tax.

I predict that Gillard will soon back down from any serious price on carbon.

Labor just doesn't seem to be able to get anything right anymore. This measure will satisfy virtually nobody and it's a grossly inadequate response to global warming. Even as a political fix it's inept, because it lets the opposition scream "broken election promise" with some justification while the Greens will continue to lament too little, too late.

It's been obvious since Rudd wimped a double dissolution on the issue that Labor is bamboozled by the challenge of climate change. I suspect it's because they have just as many denialists amongst their supporter as do Abbott's mob.

the ALP would have made it easier for themselves if they'd openly acknowledged that they had broken an election promise re a carbon tax and then given the reasons why they felt compelled to do so.

Labor's political viability and credibility is on the line on the pricing of carbon issue.

Gillard's insistence that she does not want Australia to get ahead of the rest of the world suggests very strongly that the initial carbon tax will be set at less than the international price of $26 per tonne.

The Gillard Government's only climate change election promise still standing is 'never again will a dirty power station be built'.

All the others have been dumped---the citizens' assembly, cash for clunkers and no carbon tax.

Nan I agree, but then I suppose the government could legitimately be asked what is different now to mid-2010. "Nothing of substance" is the answer, so the perception that Labor lacks any sense of purpose on the issue would remain ... largely I suspect because the perception reflects the reality.

Just about any blue-collar votes that Labor gained from Howard's WorkChoices shemozzle are going to go back to the coalition with the carbon tax.

How are the manufacturing unions going to play this one?

In the Australian Grahan Richardson says that Gillard was forced to do an about face on climate change and a carbon tax:

The harsh reality for Gillard was that to form a government she had to get the Greens and a majority of the lower house independents to go with her. She negotiated well but when you are dealing with a whole bunch of people who like the idea of a carbon tax, you finish up making a promise to them to introduce one, and this is one promise you can't break or you are back at the polls in a flash.

She had no choice in other words.

Abbott says he will oppose the carbon in opposition and that they will rescind it in government. Andrew Robb says the same--we will scrap it.

Even if the LNP wins in 2013 thy will not control the Senate---The Greens + Labor will do so. They will block any roll back.

The best that Abbott will be able to do is to refuse to go from a carbon tax to an emissions trading scheme.

The Liberal Party remains opposed to market based mechanism to change human conduct.

"...if the LNP wins in 2013 thy will not control the Senate---The Greens + Labor will do so. They will block any roll back."

That's assuming that Labor doesn't do a "mea culpa" to distance themselves from the "crazy" Greens and rebuild support among the aspirationals. That's a strong possibility, right?