Nick Smith came back from the Cancun Climate meet well schooled in arguments for taxing carbon dioxide. Not that there is much need for them here. The National Party has actually done the Labour Party’s bidding on the ETS, and the Greens only criticised on the basis that National hadn’t done enough. Apart from a bit of mumbling from Rod Hide, Smith has never (in parliament) really had to deal with any strong opposition to his plans.
Now another socialist loony across the Tasman, in a casual betrayal of election promises, is taking Australia down the long and winding carbon trading/tax road. Julia Gillard’s Multi-Party Committee on Climate Change (MCCC), as part of its last pre-Christmas conference, enunciated eleven key principles to be applied in deciding the details of their planned new carbon dioxide tax. Upon reading them you will notice similarities with Smith’s arguments here in NZ. “Investment Certainty” and “Support for International Objectives” are two of his favourites. So the counter points are something for Smith as well as Gillard.
The counter points have been made by Professor Bob Carter in Australian magazine “Quadrant”. Professor Carter is a founding member of NZ’s Climate Science Coalition. He is also is an adjunct research professor in the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, Queensland and the University of Adelaide South Australia, Australia. He is a geologist specializing in palaeontology, stratigraphy, marine geology, and environmental science. Carter is a former Director of Australia’s Secretariat for the Ocean Drilling Program. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Here (in bold) are the eleven principles developed by Gillard’s cronies, accompanied by Professor Carter’s comments. Brilliant stuff that punches Nutty Nick from one side of the ring to the other.
Environmental effectiveness. The reality is that cutting Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions, even altogether, will confer no measurable environmental benefit. Computer models suggest that a cut in emissions of, say, 20% by 2050 will (hypothetically) prevent warming by less than one-thousandth of a degree. By definition, then, a carbon dioxide tax is ineffective.
Economic efficiency. No economic need, let alone efficiency, is sensibly met by taxing an environmentally beneficial trace gas.
Budget neutrality. Whose budget? The imposition of a tax of, say, $30/tonne will impose on every Australian household increased costs estimated at more than $2,000 per year.
Competitiveness of Australian industries. The introduction of a carbon dioxide tax is intended to, and will, significantly increase the cost of energy generation. Obviously, the resultant increase in business costs will reduce the competitiveness of Australian industry against overseas counterparts in countries (most) that have no similar tax.
Energy security. In fact, energy security is sharply compromised by the very policies that the committee is espousing. Which are to continue to discriminate against coal, uranium and hydropower as energy sources, thereby taking out of play three of the only four currently practical sources of baseload power generation. Restricting the nation’s options in this way leaves only gas and oil for baseload generation, reduces energy security dramatically and is irresponsible.
Investment certainty. Industry frequently calls for policy certainty regarding future investment in power generation. Terry McCrann (journalist) was amongst the first to point out that such certainty would be most easily and cost-effectively assured by declaring a carbon dioxide tax of $0/tonne.
Fairness for households. The committee must surely be kidding. Any form of carbon dioxide taxation will inescapably cause increased costs for households, especially those of poorer socio-economic status. Mark well, the most disadvantaged Australians are going to pay, and that quite irrespective of any subsidy measures that the government may trumpet.
Flexibility to changing international circumstances. International circumstances have indeed changed recently, and the failure of nations to reach a global climate agreement at either the Copenhagen or Cancun conferences has been greeted in Australia with zero flexibility. Our policymakers and climate alarm lobbyists, now led by an unoriginal Mr Combet, have simply reiterated their earlier, failed policies of taxing carbon dioxide. The most important circumstance to be aware of now, of course, is that once such a tax is introduced it will be almost impossible to remove – despite its being unnecessary, inefficient and ultimately futile.
Administrative simplicity. Dream on. Remember, a Canberra-based committee is designing this unnecessary new tax.
Accountability. Of whom, and for what? If blame is to be sheeted home for the faulty scientific advice that has led to the current global warming policy fiasco, then CSIRO, BOM, the Department of Climate Change and major university climate research groups would be good places to start to look for culprits.
Support for Australia’s international objectives. Australian objectives presumably should not include economic and political stupidity in the face of the collapsed talkfests at Copenhagen and Cancun. The idea that overseas nations will discriminate against Australia unless we implement anti-carbon dioxide measures is well worn out, and has anyway always been a juvenile argument. Nations take hard decisions in accordance with their sovereign economic interests, irrespective of Green lobby group dreaming.
The full Quadrant article is here.