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carbon tax deal: more brown than green? « Previous | |Next »
June 28, 2011

The new greener Senate comes into play on July 1st with Parliament sitting next week. The Australian is not happy. Will a green Senate help to improve the capacity of the Gillard Government to govern more effectively? For one thing the Coalition will be in the position of being on the sidelines angrily watching. They have little interest in actually doing anything about climate change themselves.

The last session of Parliament suggested that Abbott's relentless attack attack strategy was running a bit flat. it came across as more anger and frustration than trying to persuade the independents to side with Coalition to bring the Gillard Government down. Labor may have tanked in the polls but it has found its feet in Parliament.


A carbon price mechanism could commence with a fixed price (through the issuance of fixed price units within an emissions trading scheme) before converting to a cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme. It does mean that when the carbon tax deal is done in the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee and is finalized by the Government it will pass Parliament.

Australia is still on track to increase its emissions in 2020 to 24 per cent above 2000 levels and we are having conferences on Australia in a hot world. Labor is currently at its low point: unable to spell out what its carbon tax will cost, what compensation will be given to households and industry, and what if anything will be invested to bring on low-emissions technologies; and what kind of independent committee would set emissions reduction targets.

I suspect that the points of conflict between Labor and the Greens would include compensation paid to the fossil fuel electricity producers and for a significant portion of carbon tax proceeds to be redirected into developing renewable sources of energy. The regional Independents---Windsor and Oakeshott---would side with The Greens on requiring substantial investment in renewables.

Judging from Labor's track record on this with the failed carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS) it will give a lot of money--compensation--- to the polluting power generators and very little money to developing renewable sources of energy. My guess is that there are still gaps" between the positions of the Greens and Labor and that the Greens will compromise. In what way? What happens to transport? Will it be included?

Labor dragging its heels reflects the politics of energy in Australia. Big Coal still rules, the ideologues are out in force and Big Business is acting as spoilers in the modest reform attempts to make Australia more sustainable. The economic and political forces operating against change are still far more powerful than the forces seeking transformation.

The price on carbon will come and it will start to change the behaviour of the power generators who will reduce their emissions. When will we start to see fast and cheap charging points (four hours) in our homes for electric cars? Or will we remain shackled to the petrol pump owned by the oil companies?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:13 AM | | Comments (10)


goodbye Family First. Good riddance. They achieved very little apart from blocking.

conservatives don't do conservation and they are reluctant to connect extreme weather events (drought) to climate change.

Their scenario for managing water is a simple one: its 's every one for themselves. The right of capture is the legal framework. If you're able to get it, then it's yours. If you're on a river and draw all the water, then it's just tough luck for the people downstream. If you deplete an aquifer on your land and that aquifer serves a much larger area, then it's just tough luck to the other people."

That's the free market and property rights for you. You act like a pirate and the rules of the market make it legal to do so.

Very good post, Peter. Except for one thing... it's not "the free market". What we're being told is "the free market" is solidly rigged to benefit the big players.

It is clear that Labor (and Gillard) are being dragged kicking and screaming to a rational position by the Greens and independents. Her voice and body language say that she is less committed to this than Rudd was. She also says that she wants a future for coal – just cleaner”, which is essentially the Martin Ferguson position, and complete nonsense.

I think they are probably looking on the loss of an alibi (Fielding) from the Senate, and a Green balance of power, which will let them govern from the left, as they purport to want to do, as a very mixed blessing. No more excuses for not being a social democrat party after 1 July, will the possibility be too much for them?

at least Gillard hasn't adopted the "nuclear is the pathway to a decarbonized future' position.

I agree with you when you say that state and federal Labour is still committed to a future in coal. Their talk about decarbonizing the economy is premised on coal have a wonderful future--eg., Queensland, NSW, Victoria cannot see beyond the coal in their state. They are coal states and Labor is pro-coal.

Basically Labor is beholden to Big Coal and is being forced by public opinion and its coalition partners to implement an emissions trading scheme. You can see it in their body language and hear it in their voices as they spin the message of the day.

Labor are not going to say 'we love coal, isn't it beautiful' in public. They will say one thing---renewables is the future--- and do another--cut back investment on renewables-- to ensure that renewables remain a niche energy source and that coal provides the baseload power. That allows them to wave their green credentials and say, 'see we are doing something. Climate change is real. I believe in climate change.'

I think that in the multi-party talks on a carbon tax in Canberra the Green's position is to allow a low price on carbon and big compensation to the polluters (Labor's position), block Labor's desire to give more and more to the polluters and then make a big push for a large investment in renewable energy.

I would say that it is Swan who is resisting the big investment in renewables. Putting a price on carbon is enough for him and Treasury. We are not going any further, even though the low price on carbon will not drive new investment in renewables. Lets hope Oakeshott and Windsor have a serious talk with Swan and Giillard.

the media's reporting on the science of climate change has been appalling--its all about he politics not the policy or the science.

You would think that they'd keep an eye out on the 'melting' of Antarctica' given that this would affect sea level rises around Australia's south eastern coastline and on our coastal cities, especially during storms.

I doubt whether they are even bothering to monitor the scientific research in to how the small rises in temperature are starting to result in the nibbling away at the edges of the ice shelves happening a little faster; and how this could eventually speed up the loss of ice and cause greater temperature rises to take place further inland.

Maybe it hasn't dawned on them? In spite of the break-up of the Larsen B ice shelf in early 2002; or the melting of the ice shelf that previously blocked the Prince Gustav Channel on the Antarctic Peninsula; or the thinning of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula).

Doubt is the product of the climate change denial industry – an industry which is tightly knit, well resourced and globally linked.

Hence the need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the "debate."

The IPA, in spite of its claim that it is favour of evidence-based public policy, is a part of this Merchants of Doubt network, as is The Spectator magazine

One of the reasons that the free market thinktanksin the UK,US and Australia have opposed climate change is that they see that the concerted action on man-made climate change has been hijacked by the centre left.

They gave decarbonisation the narrative and it became a post-cold war means of advocating large-scale government programmes. It instinctively drew the antipathy of free marketeers and the centre right who felt uncomfortable with some of the language of the climate change agenda.

The free market think tanks came to oppose the use of market instruments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This deal is going to be real brown. There is going to be compensation for coalminers as well assistance for coal-fired electricity generators.