I know I’ve focused upon the alternative. This is due to it being an election year, with the Coalition doing so well in the polls with initiatives that are contrary to the interests of Australia (I say this, not as a personal opinion, but based upon my analysis of their Direct Action Plan, which seems too immense and thus ineffective as well as expensive to carry out).
So, what of the ALP’s price on carbon?
In my criticisms of the alternative measures, I often state that I see sense in a price in carbon. It is a method that provides a market-based incentive to decouple economic activity from carbon emissions, which is the ultimate goal for a prosperous markets place into the twenty first century.
That said, I fear the ALP’s approach is weak and ineffective at best.
Sure, we need to buffer the market as it moves in the right direction and so using the revenue obtained from the carbon price to provide a safety net is essential. Yet, where does this buffer simply blinker spending activities, thereby undoing the motivational force behind such an initiative?
I think the APL have failed to answer this point correctly. Moreover, a large part of the revenue would better be used to subsidise alternative markets that have low greenhouse gas emissions (I do not rule out nuclear for a transitional power source, although I suspect it will end up like fossil fuels whereby we will exploit it ever more efficiently, but use more per capita, depleting the supply far quicker than initially anticipated, leaving us with an even greater deficiency beyond peak nuclear fuel).
It is here where the initiative fails the process entirely. Providing avenues for cheaper alternative markets is by no means stimulated as much as it could be.
It is likely, regardless what Tony Abbott says, that whichever party is elected in September, they will push to bring in an ETS as quickly as possible (it will be very difficult to actually remove the carbon pricing and so, by moving quickly to an ETS, the Coalition can say that the price on carbon, as it was, is now gone). However, an ETS, in my opinion, is not essential.
We hear a lot about our competitiveness on the global market, but at the same time, we sell our fossil fuels, uranium, wood and meat often in an unprocessed state at the lowest price, where instead, we ought to refine our resources, producing more local jobs and sell these resources at their deserved premium. While it remains as it is, such noise regarding our global competitiveness should rightly be ignored. In the same way, this should include the price on carbon or an eventual ETS.
So while I believe the price on carbon is the only sensible market-based method to motivate us away from a carbon base economy, the approach we currently have is sorely lacking. It is stuck within a political culture more akin to competing soft-drink brands than public representation and leadership. We have the answers, but lack the political will to achieve any meaningful and inspiring targets.