Category Archives: Federal Government

A responsible nation?

Early or late, this year will bring a federal election where all voters can influence policy on emissions reduction and climate change. Philip Walker outlines some policy possibilities.

Australia must properly address its emissions reduction responsibilities now

Federal elections are approaching this year. There is a very important issue we are still not hearing much about. Many Australians are increasingly concerned about the future of our world under the effects of climate change. In spite of this, our decision makers continue to avoid addressing the issue seriously.

Australia remains one of the highest greenhouse gas-emitting countries, per unit of energy supply and consumption.

Dr Ross Garnaut

Ross Garnaut

Most Australians are not scientists, engineers or economists. It is difficult for many of us to hold an informed opinion about what measures should be taken in Australia in order to play our proper part in reducing carbon emissions world wide. However voters do have the opportunity to understand the fundamentals and to express their concerns.

A few years back we had the carbon tax. Some politicians, by stressing biased negative argument, soured public opinion about the tax, resulting in its repeal. However, there is considerable informed opinion worldwide advocating carbon taxes or fees to be the most effective form of carbon pricing to adequately address the problem.

A couple of US proposals could be applied to Australia

Economist William G. Gale, a US expert on tax policy, discussed options in the US economy at The Miller Center of the University of Virginia. He said: Carbon taxes would contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment and better environmental and energy policy by providing price signals to those who pollute. Not surprisingly, most analyses find that a carbon tax could indeed significantly reduce emissions.

Dr James Hansen

Dr James Hansen

Former NASA climate scientist James Hansen has proposed a “carbon fee” system under which fossil fuels are taxed when they are produced or imported, rather than when they are consumed. Under his proposal, countries would collect a fee when fossil fuels are mined or imported, and distribute the revenue to their citizens, while charging extra border duties to countries without a similar scheme.

Such carbon pricing, used effectively, would discourage emissions in favour of clean energy sources. Whilst accounting for the external costs of impacts on climate and environment, it fairly distributes compensation to the people. There should be no subsequent incentives to selected energy sources. The energy markets should be allowed to determine the mix of clean energy systems used.

In July 2015 Renew Economy published Hugh Saddler’s discussion of the take-home messages from abolition of Australian carbon tax, illustrating the proven effectiveness of the tax in Australia. In reading his conclusions, it is evident that the induced changes were modest in both supply and consumption but were what economic theory would have predicted. Larger impacts of a price on carbon will only appear if the policy is maintained over the long term. Many factors besides the carbon price have influenced changes in the behaviour of electricity consumers and suppliers. Achieving larger and faster emissions reductions will require a wide range of policies, all working in the same direction. A price on emissions, whether through an emissions trading scheme or a tax, will be a key component of such a suite, but only one component.

Professor Ross Garnaut, speaking at University of Technology, Sydney on 24th September 2015, said: Once emissions reduction responsibilities have been allocated amongst countries, it is possible for each country to contribute its share of the mitigation responsibility not only through the application of a Carbon Tax or an ETS, but also by direct regulation of emissions-intensive activity, or by fiscal payments to low-emissions activities, or through multifarious regulatory and fiscal interventions. He indicated that small countries with currently high emissions, like Australia, will not be able to resist indefinitely the pressure from the larger countries to do their fair shares in a global mitigation effort. Sooner or later proper action will be required, which will then be at higher cost than if steady progress had been made from an early time.

Sometimes in Australia we see the leading political parties’ bilateral support for action on selected issues. Why not with action on climate change?

We need to be continually demanding that our politicians put forward policies that, once implemented, would enable us to effectively play our part in addressing world climate change.

References

Economist William G. Gale, US expert on tax policy, discussing options in the US economy, at The Miller Center of the University of Virginia. The wisdom of a carbon tax

US environmental scientist James Hansen, addressing a “carbon fee” in The Conversation December 2, 2015. James Hansen: emissions trading won’t work, but my global ‘carbon fee’ will

Hugh Saddler, One Year on from the Carbon Price Australia’s Emissions Rebound is Clear, Renew Economy 22 July 2015

Professor Ross Garnaut, speaking at University of Technology, Sydney on 24th September 2015. The Essential Role of Carbon Pricing

Australian business needs the RET

Clean Energy Council infographic: RET saves business $64million a year

More than 15,000 businesses have now installed a commercial-size solar power system. These businesses cover a broad range of sectors, from dairy and chicken farmers through to wineries, offices, supermarkets and retail outlets.

There is an increasing recognition that the current modest support provided by the RET means the business case for solar power makes sense, helping businesses become more competitive in tough economic conditions.

This is a very effective policy which is working well and will begin to phase out naturally from 2017. The rest of the world is going full-speed ahead on solar and there is a huge opportunity here for Australian businesses if we leave the RET alone.

[Kane Thornton, Clean Energy Council]

Tell your Federal MP, Australia needs the Renewable Energy Target scheme.

Throsby: Mr Stephen Jones

Electorate Office:
2/1 Bong Bong Road
Dapto, NSW, 2530

Postal address:
PO Box 864
Dapto, NSW, 2530

Phone: 4262 6122
Fax: 4262 615

Parliament Office:
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: 6277 4661
Fax: 6277 8548

Gilmore: Mrs Anne Sudmalis

Electorate Office:
24 Berry Street,
Nowra, NSW, 2541

Postal address:
PO Box 1009
Nowra, NSW, 2541
Phone: 4423 1782
Fax: 4423 1785
Email: email hidden; JavaScript is required

Parliament Office:
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: 6277 4141
Fax: 6277 8482

Hume: Mr Angus Taylor

Electorate Office:
191 Auburn Street
Goulburn, NSW, 2580

Postal address:
PO Box 700
Goulburn, NSW, 2580

Phone: 4822 2277
Fax: 4822 1029

Parliament Office:
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: 6277 4662
Fax: 6277 2389

Climate Commission -> Volunteer Climate Council

Climate CommissionersVia Twitter and tonight’s Lateline, news that the members of the Climate Commission have decided to continue their work as volunteers in a new Climate Council.

The Climate Commission was set up by the former government, using funds from the carbon pricing scheme, “to provide all Australians with an independent and reliable source of information about the science of climate change, the international action being taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the economics of a carbon price.”

Shifted bell curve for temperaturesGreg Hunt, the new Minister for the Environment, abolished the commission on the second day of the Abbott government, in accordance with its promise to repeal the carbon price.

“Since its creation two years ago, the commission has produced 27 public reports on topics including the effect of climate change in Australia, global action being taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the potential of renewable energy. It has also held public forums across the country.” The Age 19 September

Thanks to the former Climate Commissioners, now Climate Councillors, Professor Tim Flannery (Chief Commissioner), Mr Roger Beale AO, Mr Gerry Hueston, Professor Lesley Hughes, Professor Veena Sahajwalla, and Professor Will Steffen.

At last, a fossil carbon price

Today Australia starts to charge some 300 businesses and organisations for the fossil carbon they release to the air. The carbon price they pay will go towards helping us all adjust to the new, clean energy century.

Clean energy is especially important for regional Australia because it makes sense at all scales, from solar panels on traffic warning signs to multi MegaWatt solar thermal power stations. Small scale projects don’t hit the headlines, but hundreds of renewable energy systems are already making their mark on national demand.

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Clean Energy Australia

David Tranter reports on the passing of Australia’s clean energy bills through the Senate.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 was a dramatic day in the history of Australia. On this first day of the second consecutive La Nina summer, the Australian Senate passed the Government’s Clean Energy Bills. Our party of three had succeeded in obtaining tickets to the Senate Session at Parliament House that very morning. As we sped through the lush green countryside to Canberra in the early morning air, the world had never seemed so bright. There were even pools of water in dry old Lake George.

As we entered the grand portals of Parliament House, which CanWin Secretary Philip Walker had helped design, I was bowled over by marble pillars illuminated by light streaming in through high windows city-side – pillars that resembled old growth forest giants.

Passes attached ceremoniously to our lapels, we headed for the Senate chamber, accompanied by a guide. Up grand stairs to Security, where we were frisked of half our belongings including steel tipped shoes that raised the alarm, we elevatored up to what we were told was Senate level, where we were given the run around past what seemed endless, glass-paneled doors leading to public galleries securely locked to keep us out. Continue reading