Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Carbon tax inertia!

Coaltion claims "prices of rubber chickens to soar under the carbon tax"*

Well, I’ve been giving this whole “carbon tax” brouhaha a fair bit of a squiz and so far, I’m pretty impressed.

The starting price of $23 a ton** seems pretty realistic and the Government (and Greens and independents) seem to have constructed the compensation quite well.

To recap;

• The carbon “tax” is not a tax on the average punter as such, but is a price that will be levied on large polluters to encourage them to switch to lower polluting methods. The money raised by the carton price will be used to invest in more environmentally friendly technologies and to compensate lower to middle income earners.

• Just about every commentator I’ve read argues nine out of ten Australian households will not be affected by the new price on carbon. Through a combination of measures (through changes to the income tax threshold and welfare benefits) most households will be no worse off and if they switch to companies that use either lower-polluting or non-polluting technologies (which is rather the whole idea), then a lot of people will be much better off.

• The argument that “Australia should wait for the rest of the world” is an argument for never doing anything, at any time until the end of the universe. In any case, the rest of the world is looking at forms of carbon abatement schemes. The EU has a carbon abatement scheme; the UK is looking at a carbon abatement scheme. Hell, even China is looking at a carbon abatement scheme***.

As to what it all means politically – who the fuck knows?

My suspicion is that by the next Commonwealth election in 2013, most people will be wondering what the fuss was all about and who is that funny, shouting man that seems to be leading the Federal opposition?

* Possibly not true.

**Or is it “tonne”? I can never remember.

*** A process that seems to be assisted by the fact that discussion and debate in the PRC is perhaps less than rigorous.


Alex said...

Fantastic timing, Ramon. I'm generally all for pollution reduction (not just carbon), but I haven't so much as looked at the details of the current scheme and I have a few questions:

• With the reduction of tariffs, a lot of labour-intensive goods-production has found its way to parts of the world where labour is cheapest (and I've heard it argued that the developed world should take more responsibility for pollution produced in the developing world, since much of it comes from the production of goods that the developed world consumes. But I digress...). Is it not then logical that pollution-intensive goods-production shall find its way to parts of the world where pollution is cheapest? Will there/should there be some sort of tariffs (or other mechanism) put in place to counter this, or will the almighty market be self-correcting?

• I keep hearing Jules and Swany say that they're only going to be taxing the 500 biggest polluters. How will this be worked out? What counts and what doesn't? Will businesses have to submit some sort of audit every year? Will it be based on projections, or on previous year's polluting? Will this all be run by some semi-autonomous regulatory authority? What powers will it have? Also, I hear that carbon trading with other countries will be allowed. Given the dodgy shit that goes on in some places, and the track record of bodies such as AWB and Meat And Livestock Australia, is this a big scandalous clusterfuck waiting to happen?

• Will this mean more cunts coming to my door, at all hours of the day and night, trying to sell me "less carbon-tax-exposed" electricity retail services (I swear, I had one yesterday).

Please, put my mind at ease.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Alex, companies are already required to report their emissions under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007.

The figure of 500 is an estimate, based on this data.

And given that the biggest polluters (such as coal and electricity) tend to have massive infrastructure projects in this country, I think it would be extremely difficult for them to pack up and head off-shore.

Hope this helps.

Alex said...

It certainly goes some way, thank you Ramon.

squib said...

We need to slap a carbon tax on the whole planet

I propose an alien mothership

patchouligirl said...

"My suspicion is that by the next Commonwealth election in 2013, most people will be wondering what the fuss was all about and who is that funny, shouting man that seems to be leading the Federal opposition?" I sincerely hope you are right. The polls at the moment are worrying but let's hope Labor doesn't lose heart like it did with Rudd.

The next time someone says to you "India and China aren't doing anything" you can tell them that India HAS a price on carbon.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Yes Squib, but then Tones will be demanding the Government turn back the alien motherships.

"We will decide what hideous alien monster come to our country and the manner in which they come."

Perseus said...

If I was President of the World (and it's a shame I'm not) I'd just ban cars. Sure, there'd be about 30-50 years of horrible re-adjustment (horse and buggy sales through the roof, trams and trains everywhere) and probably civil wars, but the environment: fixed.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I'd just ban cars.

And owls.

Alex said...

I'd just ban cars...environment: fixed.

Okay, I get that cars are a big slice of the pie, but didn't we have environmental problems before cars became popular (and affordable). Don't we have environmental problems in places where they still aren't? (We're talking about the whole world, right?)

squib said...

Cool, I've always wanted a Clydesdale horse

Vote 1 for Pers

WitchOne said...

Squib, it'd take you a week to get to work each day.

Try figuring that out when you're sober.