CARBON POLLUTION TAX November 8, 2011Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, carbon emissions, Global Warming Politics, greenhouse emissions, Natural Environment.
The Senate passed the Carbon Price Tax by 36 to 32 votes, so that now there will be a tax on carbon dioxide pollution. After a stormy passage it is now law becoming effective on 1 July next year.
The Sydney Morning Herald suggests graphically how it is supposed to work (Click to enlarge):
The opposition have claimed that the tax will not be effective in reducing emissions in Australia, and that it will not have an effect on global emissions. It is possible that the Government has made too many concessions in order to get the process in place. The problem is that the benefit to industry, employment and environmental well being is yet to be realized.
Still Lenore Taylor suggests that the Opposition’s negative tactics have created difficulties for it. She writes:
Neatly straddling both climate scepticism and opposition to the tax as a means of reducing emissions, Abbott’s position has united his party and dramatically increased the public’s doubts about a policy that once enjoyed bipartisan support.
But passage of the carbon tax laws means the Coalition may now share some of the political pain.
It is facing questioning about how it undoes a tax that will be operating by the scheduled time of the next election, whether it compensates companies for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of forward-dated permits likely to have been sold by them, and whether it repeals, or finds another funding source, for the tax cuts and increases in family payments and pensions that will be handed over to compensate families for the impact of the tax.
He will also face increasing questions about his own alternative Direct Action policy.
The battle over this policy can now continue on the basis of facts and lived experience rather than scare campaigns – facts about how much prices rise and to what extent families are compensated, facts about whether jobs are really lost and facts about whether the Coalition really has found a cheaper, better way to reduce emissions than the very same market mechanism they once advocated.
The local politics will be interesting and so will the question as to how effective the tax will be, and whether the political climate will allow future modification. If it works at all there will be interest groups that will promote the various forms of carbon gas abatement and alternative technologies. And then there is the possibility the legislation will be part of a broader international development, in which case the argument that it does not influence global emissions will be undermined.
I note that the passage of the legislation was reported on Democracy Now, whereas The New York Times, for example, reported the passage in the House of Reps. Of course, events in Australia are reported in the British Media. The news analysis by BBC’s Richard Black is pertinent:
The vote in theory brings to an end a long-running and, in a global sense, highly symbolic issue.
Symbolic because Australia is one of the world’s highest per-capita emitters and has an economy that is more reliant than most on energy-intensive industries such as mining, including coal.
Yet of all developed countries, Australia is set to feel impacts of climate change earlier than most, and arguably is seeing them already in the recent severe droughts.
It also has immense potential for renewable electricity, particularly in the area of solar; and some are hoping the carbon tax and subsequent trading mechanism will kick-start a renewables revolution.
Whether the carbon tax is high enough to do that, though, is unclear. And investors may be restrained by the opposition’s vow to repeal the law if it gains office in 2013.
Emissions trading is scheduled for introduction in 2015. The European experience is that without tight caps on emissions, the carbon price remains far too low to stimulate change on the scale scientists calculate is necessary.
Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo reviews the legislation from the perspectives of the committee process, the policy as it now exists and the politics. These are correctly described as “the Cleaner Energy Future bills”.