Global action on climate

Wayne Swan has just delivered a speech to the Press Club on climate change policy. In the speech he made the argument that Australia might be left behind because the rest of the world was already doing a lot in this policy space.

Countries accounting for around 80 per cent of emissions have already pledged to act to address climate change. Thirty-two countries and ten American States already have operating emissions trading schemes in place. The world’s key economies are all taking action of one kind or another.

China’s 12th Five Year Plan, which covers the years to 2015, has a goal of “gradually establishing a carbon trading market”, while emissions trading is planned to be trialled in six key provinces before 2013. This is on top of existing incentives for low-emissions power generation.

India has begun implementing a national energy efficiency certificate trading scheme accounting for more than 50 per cent of the fossil fuel used there, and a coal tax is expected to raise about half a billion dollars for investments in clean-energy technologies in the first 12 months.

In South Korea, legislation was introduced in April to commence mandatory economy-wide emissions trading from 2015. The South Koreans have also had a trial emissions trading scheme in place since January involving 14 cities and provinces, including Seoul.

And Japan has also operated voluntary emissions trading schemes involving some of its largest companies since 2005.

In Europe, an Emissions Trading Scheme commenced in 2005 and applies in 30 countries, some of which also have a carbon tax, and many of which have additional measures such as renewable energy subsidies.

In Britain – which produces roughly the same total carbon pollution as Australia but has a population three times our own – a Conservative coalition government has just tightened its emission targets to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by around 2025.

In the US, despite a hostile Congress, the President is committed to a new Clean Energy Standard that will double the share of clean-energy sources in the US electricity supply mix to 80 per cent by 2035.

Notice the sleight of hand – 32 countries have an ETS, 30 of them are the EU. But more important, what Swan is forgetting is that Australia has also done a lot.

If you want to see a list of Australian government policies addressing the environment look no further than the Department of Climate Change and Energy efficiency website.

Programs and rebates
The Australian Government is committed to developing programs and initiatives to support householders, industry and the community to save energy and reduce emissions.
Green Loans
Green Start
Home Insulation Safety Plan
National Solar Schools
Renewable Energy Target
Smart Grid, Smart City
Solar Cities

Solar Hot Water Rebate
The A-Z of Government initiatives provides a comprehensive listing of climate change and energy efficiency programs and initiatives.
Rebates and assistance are provided by the Australian Government and most State and Territory governments. To find out what assistance may be available in your location visit the Living Greener website.

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20 Responses to Global action on climate

  1. Sleetmute

    What spin. Just for a start, Obama’s Clean Energy Standard is going nowhere:

    The White House has pointedly avoided putting much emphasis on Obama’s February proposal or releasing details. In March, senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released a white paper on the CES concept that had more questions than answers about the idea. (The committee solicited public input on the proposal and plans to release the collated responses soon.) But Bingaman said last week that he’s not sure he can even get the bill out of his committee. And if Bingaman managed to pass a bill on the floor of the Senate, the House would want to alter it drastically.

  2. coz

    Swan:

    It is a view shared by the Productivity Commission, by Professor Garnaut, and by every serious economist including the 13 who were moved to pen an open letter last week.

    How does this affect you economists, I think this is the second time I’ve read the statement that economists who don’t agree with the govt aren’t proper economists. Some of you are employed by the govt. Do you feel your reputations have been impugned?

  3. Alex Heyworth

    What Swan’s speech totally misses is that it is irrelevant what other countries are doing to “reduce their emissions” if the end result is that they do not reduce their emissions. The global outcome is that CO2 levels continue to rise steadily at a rate of 2 ppm every year. In this context, anything Australia does is a waste of time. In particular, given our comparative advantage in having cheap coal, a carbon tax is tantamount to shooting ourselves in the foot just before taking part in the Stawell Gift.

    BTW, any sensible analysis of nations’ contributions to carbon emissions should start at the consumption level, not the production level. This stops the shonky nonsense of pretending you have lowered your contribution to global emissions by sending your emissions-intensive industries offshore, but continuing to consume their production.

  4. coz

    It’s like an appeal to our fear of being clothed in unfashionable policies. Apparently we are supposed to be a fashion leader not a fashion follower in these matters.

  5. JC

    What SwanDive doesn’t mention of course is that this is the first of the carbon tax rates. The key is the objective set to cut our emissions by 5% of the 2000 baseline which is around 25% of total current emissions.

    The lying douchebag is implying a tax of 20 bucks all the way through the period. However there have been more than enough studies which suggest the tax rate has to go to 65 bucks a tone in order to move gas into the supply mix.

    So where exactly is the forecast in terms of where we have to go to reach the target?

    What happens to the sniveling little liar’s forecasts with a 65 buck carbon tax for some of the period?

  6. Ben

    And we can all trust Red China’s plans right? Their leaders are beyond accountability! How I wish Swan studied history.

  7. JC

    And we can all trust Red China’s plans right?

    Interesting you should ask. Copenhagen was actually pretty close to an agreement. Us president Obozo was prepared to freeze US emissions to the 2006 baseline.

    What he asked from China was that carbon intseity go down 4% per year while absolute emissions had no ceiling to the extent that it didn’t impinge on intensity levels.

    All Obozo asked for was verification, which was something the Chinese regime wasn’t prepared to concede even if it scuppered the deal..

  8. Alex Heyworth

    Of course we cannot trust China’s leaders, nor the leaders of any other nation. All nations, with one exception, want to be seen to be doing more than their share while simultaneously doing less than their share.

    The exception is the UK, where the leadership seems to have had a collective brain explosion.

  9. JC

    I can’t imagine why the government simply doesn’t go for the direct action route. Everyone knows it’s bullshit and it won’t cost the earth.

    Say $5 million a year having consultants draw up nice looking charts with the trend-line pointing the right way and reductions showing steady declines each year.

    That’s what I would do if I was in government. I’d have our emissions down 25% costing no more than $20 million tops and end up with a Nobel at the end of the period.

  10. .

    Seriously. Deregulate nuclear, especially exports.

    Problem solved at zero cost.

  11. StKilda

    The best solution to global warming is five minutes prayer before bedtime. Far cheaper than any other mitigation – and will be just as effective as anything Australia can ever do about it.

  12. Ian

    Sinclair,

    Wayne Swan’s performance under the meekest of questioning from Fran Kelly this morning hardly inspires confidence that he knows what he’s talking about.

    Look at him referring to his cheat sheets @ 1:23 – and he’s still not answering the question clearly.

    “National income” growing from $56,000 to $65,000?! What on earth is he talking about?

  13. .

    “National income” growing from $56,000 to $65,000?! What on earth is he talking about?

    This is after year zero and the statutory corporation DungCorp (TM) has implemented their Chinese style five year plan.

  14. Infidel Tiger

    “National income” growing from $56,000 to $65,000?! What on earth is he talking about?

    After Swan is through with the economy, that’s our GDP. $56-$65k.

  15. manalive

    The modelling will show real national income growing strongly under a carbon price, at an average annual rate per person of around 1.1 per cent until 2050 instead of 1.2 per cent. This means a carbon price would only reduce annual growth in GNI per person by about one-tenth of 1 percentage point

    (Swan).

    Treasury’s carbon dioxide tax models would seem to suffer the same problem as the IPCC’s climate models viz. circularity: ‘..embedding one’s assumptions as foundational “input” axioms in a model, then proceeding to “prove” that the model’s “output” supports the validity of those assumptions …’ (Wiki)

  16. John A

    “In the speech he made the argument that Australia might be left behind”

    So are we setting an example for the world, or are we lagging behind those who are already ahead of us?

    You can’t have it both ways, Mr Treasurer.

  17. manalive

    Empirical evidence suggests that a carbon (CO2) tax would have little or no effect on reducing CO2 emissions per capita.

    The longest running carbon dioxide taxes are in Netherlands (1990), Finland (1990), Sweden (1991), Norway (1991) and Denmark (1996).

    Most of these countries had reductions in CO2 per cap. in the late ’70s or early ’80s by reducing fossil fuel imports in response to the ’70s energy crises and for energy security.
    They don’t use coal because they don’t have any or have exhausted any deposits they had.

  18. Jim Rose

    the one upside of the EU carbon trading is that it will keep economists employed for decades writing about its countless failures and rent-seeking origins.

  19. dover_beach

    After Swan is through with the economy, that’s our GDP. $56-$65k.

    That is optimistic, IT.

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