Congratulations to the Australian Senate on voting down the CPRS and ETS legislation from the Rudd Government today.
Let’s get one thing straight before I go too deep into this discussion.
I’m not a Climate Change skeptic. I do think that the human contribution to the Global Warming phenomena has been blown out of proportion; however I am 100% certain that we as humans need to start lessening the impact that we have on this planet. I am, therefore, completely in support of any legislation that contributes to the reduction of pollution by humans.
What I’m opposed to, is the ridiculous concept that money will fix the affects of human pollution on the Earth. Recently there’s been a maelstrom in Australian politics as the Government attempts to pass its so-titled “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme”. The foundation of this entire process for the reduction of Carbon Pollution is on the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Essentially, what happens, is that companies are given a cap as to how much pollution that they can emit. If they go over this, they receive massive fines.
Sounds great, right? I agree.
However, let’s add some more information in here. Companies who know they are going to go over their cap are able to buy additional permits for Carbon Emissions from companies who are going to be below the cap. So, rather than making changes to their processes, high polluters simply need to ensure they’ve purchased enough Carbon Credits to cover their pollution in any given year.
So the money that these big polluters might implement in order to lower their own Greenhouse Gas Emissions by changes in practice or method, now has to be spent purchasing Carbon Credits so that they don’t end up being fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Add onto this the fact that the Rudd Government wants to lead the way on this measure, and we really run into trouble. The US, and more importantly India and China (and many other nations) have nothing implemented against their own emissions to make grand reductions.
By the year 2030, it is projected that China and India combined will be responsible for 34% of the total world carbon emissions. Over one third! 29% of this is from China alone. Neither of these countries are subject to emissions limits under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol(1).
Clearly, on a global scale, there is much more that needs to be discussed and agreed to.
Now let me clarify something else – I am in no way saying that we should have the attitude that because we’re not as bad as others, we don’t need to do anything. What I am saying is that we need to ensure that we have all the aspects of this global problem covered.
As Australians, we need to take care of the Australian Economy, first and foremost. No matter which way you plug it, the ETS is not a commercial scheme, it’s a tax on Carbon Emissions. More importantly, it is going to drive costs of everything in Australia up. It will drive up the cost of running business – so why wouldn’t a business seek offshore movements, where they are not taxed on their pollution?
In 2005-06, Coal was Australia’s largets commodity export – 19% of Australia’s commodity exports were Coal, bringing $A24.5 Billion into the Australian Economy(2). Now Fossil Fuel burning alongside Deforestation are the two most important human contributors to Climate Change, as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel that we use, so obviously there is a major issue by itself. Something there needs to change.
However, Coal is also one of the most important driving factors of the Australian Economy. It is an industry that, without a global agreement on Climate Change reduction that includes the largest polluters, Australia cannot afford to lose!
The Rudd Government wants to reduce Australia’s emissions by 5%. Australia’s overall contribution to global Greenhouse Gas Emissions is 1.5% – yes, that’s a lot for a small nation; however, 5% of 1.5% makes a total of .075% or 1 in 75000 while nations like China have no reduction obligation whatsoever, inviting Fossil-Fuel production companies to their shores with open arms.
That .075% is the reduction, remember. So Australia’s Carbon Emissions on a global scale would go from 1.5% to 1.425%.
The fundamental flaw with the Rudd Government’s ETS is that there is so little gain, and so, so, SO much cost.
Senator Penny Wong spent so much of her debate time accusing opponents of the CPRS that if they did not vote for it, then they were voting to take no action on Climate Change. What rubbish, I think the majority of the population of Australia recognizes that something needs to be done – but how about we take action against the cause itself? Let’s promote green and renewable energy resources. Let’s invest in Carbon-neutral or even Carbon-positive schemes.
Instead, the Rudd Government just wants to do what they did with the Financial Crisis – throw money at it and hope it goes away. Funnily enough, we’ve now seen three months of interest rate rises as Rudd’s Stimulus band-aids begin to wear off. Now is when we begin to see the effects of the Rudd/Swan economic management really come into play.
But that’s another topic.
I would love to see Australia take strong action on Climate Change. I would love to see Australia lead the world in reduction of Greenhouse Gases. I would love to see Australia set the standard for tackling global warming and pollution of this wonderful planet that we live on.
So let’s tackle the problem. The IPCC has already established that the two highest contributing factors to man-made climate change are the burning of Fossil Fuels and Deforestation. So let’s look to that. How can we invest in non-polluting forms of energy? And how can we minimize Deforestation?