Sunday, December 13, 2009

Climate Change

Climate change obviously is the issue of the week and I'm not going to add too much to the debate except to provide some notes mainly for myself on some key positions.

The best way to get round those skeptical about human-induced CC is to argue that there are benefits to reducing energy intensity and lowering emissions that go beyond whether they will have an impact on the climate.

More money needs to be provided by govts for research into renewables: a basic fact that needs to be reiterated over and over again. (Imagine if some of the costs of the govt's entourage could have been redirected to university research).

A carbon tax would be simpler than a trading scheme but it is unlikely to happen in Australia.

The European scheme and all similar schemes (including the Australian one) are (and will be) subject to manipulation. They risk putting energy supply and abatement at the mercy of speculators.

Going down the tax route would have avoided the complexity issue that makes people suspicious about govt motives. People don't like taxation, but it would have been easier to explain. A low initial tax on carbon emmissions (escalating over time) would have provided a clear incentive to polluters. Revenue raised could have gone into renewables research and to assist the poor to adjust to higher electricity prices.

Higher taxes on fuel would provide incentives to drive less polluting cars. Simple but unlikely in the extreme in Australia (without bipartisan support).

Major reform in Australia is more difficult without bipartisanship. The liberalisation of the Australian economy was made possible by bipartisanship. The GST is somewhat of an exception. Who now really considers the GST as a problem? (Perhaps some in small business, but once systems are set up, people adjust).

European success in meeting its Kyoto targets has a lot to do with the collapse of communism and the creation of carbon credits from Eastern Europe.

Much of the action taken by developed countries to meet targets has little to do with cutting emissions at home (i.e planting trees, cuts in land clearing etc)

For current renewables to be viable requires a high carbon price - estimates range from $US20 to $150.

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