Carbon scandal

One of the arguments the government has been using to promote its carbon tax is that Australia is not moving ahead of the rest of the world and we’re falling behind China. That they have been able to maintain this argument even after the Productivity Commission reported is quite astonishing.

… no country currently imposes an economy-wide tax on greenhouse gas emissions or has in place an economy-wide ETS. Of the study countries, the United Kingdom, Germany, some parts of the United States and New Zealand have emissions trading schemes operating — but these apply only to particular sectors, such as electricity generation.

Now we discover a larger deceit. On March 9, 2011 Greg Combet was saying things like this.

GREG COMBET: Well, according to this report by Vivid Economics, the effective carbon price in sectors of the Chinese economy was $14 a tonne compared to $1.68 in Australia. This is why the Government has commissioned the Productivity Commission to do an independent study of the effective carbon prices in the economies of our major trading partners.

Let’s shine the light on a few facts so that we can have a little bit more informed debate about this in Australia, because it is certainly not the case that we are the only ones doing something or endeavouring to do something about climate change. There is a range of things going on in the economies of our trading partners and we need to be well-informed about it.

That is a very strange set of numbers and a bit of cherry-picking. Tim Wilson picks up the story in The Australian.

When the report was released it was promoted by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet as demonstrating “China [has] effective carbon prices well in excess of Australia’s so the myth that Australia is acting ahead of the world is just that – a myth”.

What the government didn’t disclose at the time is that they knew their argument was bunk.

Documents released under Freedom of Information show that departmental feedback on a draft to the report’s commissioners, the Climate Institute, queried if the method for calculating China’s carbon tax rate was the “the correct approach”.

Here is an extract from an internal email dated October 6, 2010

Unfortunately it isn’t clear from the email trail what happened next.

Vivid Economics didn’t include the departmental feedback in its final report and went ahead with the higher Chinese number while acknowledging discreetly the non-comparability of the implicit carbon tax rates in a way that is only obvious with the released FoI documents and hindsight.

Even without the correction it was clear there were other issues. Former Keating government minister Gary Johns wrote on these pages “the Chinese must think Gillard a fool[, Vivid] wildly overstate China’s and wildly understate Australia’s implicit carbon price”.

But it wasn’t until the Productivity Commission published its carbon emissions in key economies report showing China lagged Australia’s emissions reduction efforts and that “no country currently imposes an economy-wide tax” that the government’s case was punctured.

But the government knew it all along, stayed mum and perpetuated the idea it was otherwise.

I think full and frank disclosure is required – at face value it looks like the government has deliberately set out to mislead the public. Any private sector organisation in a similar would be facing investigation and its directors would be under threat of legal action including life-time bans.

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12 Responses to Carbon scandal

  1. Michael

    can you stop banging on about carbon. Any further discussion is useless, the concept of a carbon tax has been debunked so thoroughly it is not worth attracting any more attention to it.

  2. C.L.

    This is resignation stuff. They lied and they bribed:

    The report the minister referred to was not as independent as it sounds — it was funded by government through a $70,000 payment that went via the “non-partisan” Climate Institute.

  3. johno

    Can you please continue banging on about the carbon dioixde tax. The proposed carbon dioixde tax may have been trashed, but until the prospect of Australians being inflicted with this completely pointless tax has been removed, it remains an important political issues and we should draw as much attention to it as possible.

    In particular, we should be asking the question – if the benfits of a carbon dioixde tax are so real, why do its supporters have to lie so much about these benefits?

    Surely they aren’t trying to pull the wool over our eyes and say ‘trust me, I’m from this government. I know what I’m doing!’

  4. AndrewL

    China have announced a planned nationwide carbon emission trading scheme which essentially acts like a tax initially. Five provinces start the pilot program – Guangdong, Liaoning, Hubei, Shaanxi and Yunnan.

    Initially our emission scheme is not economy wide – transport and agriculture are excluded.

    So if we aren’t planning a carbon emission abatement scheme we would be falling behind China. The Productivity Commission report shows both methods of abatement costs. A politician spinning information; it doesn’t seem much of a scandal as we’re not out in front of the world.

  5. No Worries

    This looks like a case of the Minister misleading Parliament. Once upon a time Ministers would resign over such abject deceit. Hopefully, there will be a no-confidence motion. But, of course this will just be “Abbott being negative”. One mustn’t denounce lying and fraud – it’s just not on.

  6. manalive

    China have announced a planned nationwide carbon emission trading scheme which essentially acts like a tax initially. Five provinces start the pilot program – Guangdong, Liaoning, Hubei, Shaanxi and Yunnan….

    Fine, let’s see how all that works out for the world’s biggest CO2 ‘polluter’ (bearing in mind the unreliability of the Chinese government numbers) before we (1.2% of global emissions) even consider doing anything.

  7. Pingback: ClimateGate comes to Australia at Catallaxy Files

  8. As far as I can see the portion of email reproduced above establishes only that the the price China sets on carbon can be assessed in different ways leading to different conclusions about what the price actually is. Knowingly or unknowingly Combet has chosen to use4 the price that best suits his argument. Big deal. Is that all the 750 FOI requests produced? That is pathetic.

  9. JC

    Dougy

    Why are you so upset about the FOI requests? You seem obsessed by it.

    As far as I can see the portion of email reproduced above establishes only that the the price China sets on carbon can be assessed in different ways leading to different conclusions about what the price actually is

    Ha ha… We’re not dealing with a volatile stock here Dougy. You can work out where they are in terms of a price. Stop being so religious.

  10. Sorry JC don’t understand your comment. Volatile stock?? Work out where (who or what) are in terms of a price? If I thought the people who read the propagandizing from the IPA were awake to what (I think) they are actually up to. I would relax and chuckle along with the rest of you. Unfortunately I see little to amuse me in the situation this country finds itself in. I’m an old bloke I’ll be gone before the rest of you have to deal with the consequences of the climate crisis but I worry about my grandchildren. It really burns me that right wing deceivers doing the bidding of their anonymous funders seem to be successfully delaying action that is really urgent. Have a look at the IPA website. Look at the clowns they sponsor one after another to stand up and lie about climate. Have a real good think. Would you really believe those idiots Monckton and Lawson over serious competent scientists? Would you? Or a raft of professionally disappointed sell out academics like Plimer and Carter, both well looked after by the Heartland Institute? Do you really believe that crap about an international conspiracy of scientists to line their pockets and conceal the truth? Do you? these are the people Davidson and his cohort are supporting to pull the wool over our eyes – to keep us dozing while our pockets are picked. This is not a game JC. Australia is being gutted by the clients of deceivers like the IPA as they hang out for every last dollar. When they’re finished Oz will look like a larger version of Nauru and probably about as prosperous. I’ll be gone JC but you? How old are you?
    Does it occur to no-one that the philosophy these clowns support is the exactly the same one that brought us such highlights as the global financial meltdown and the Iraq war. This is not to do with left and right but with right and wrong. Wake up you lot.

  11. daddy dave

    I’m an old bloke I’ll be gone before the rest of you have to deal with the consequences of the climate crisis but I worry about my grandchildren.

    I have two questions for you, Doug.

    First, what crisis exactly do you think your grandchildren will experience? The scientific literature doesn’t mention any crisis that will happen in their lifetimes.

    Second, if that crisis is coming, do you think the carbon tax will stop it (or even make it not as bad?)

  12. JC

    Yea Doug… like any leftie introduce the conspiracy theory (IPA) and wheel out the kids. You guys have to develop some new schtick.

    Look at the clowns they sponsor one after another to stand up and lie about climate.

    How do you know they are lying Dougsie?

    Have a real good think. Would you really believe those idiots Monckton and Lawson over serious competent scientists?

    Dunno what to think of Monkers. He seems a little eccentric, but then he’s part of the British gentry and they’re all fucked in the head a little. In fact it’s part of their provenance.

    Never heard Nige speak, but he was a pretty decent fin minister.

    Or a raft of professionally disappointed sell out academics like Plimer and Carter, both well looked after by the Heartland Institute?

    And what exactly is wrong with the heartland institute comapred to say the Australia Institute? Plimer doesn’t seem to be credible, but so what? AlGore, the Flan, James Hansen, Doc Pach basically lack cred: even more so.

    Do you really believe that crap about an international conspiracy of scientists to line their pockets and conceal the truth?

    No. I don’t believe there is an international conspiracy, however as emailgate showed there are a bunch of people sitting at the top of the climate tree whose ethics and honesty are seriously questionable.

    I also think inducements have consequences as humans all react to rewards.

    Do you? these are the people Davidson and his cohort are supporting to pull the wool over our eyes – to keep us dozing while our pockets are picked.

    I’m not sure who Sinc is supporting as I’ve never asked him. However like me, he seems to have serious reservations about the same people as I do. And which pockets is the IPA picking, Dougsie? If you have any evidence they are stealing money then you should report them.

    This is not a game JC. Australia is being gutted by the clients of deceivers like the IPA as they hang out for every last dollar.

    Now I know your lying, or deeply stupid.

    When they’re finished Oz will look like a larger version of Nauru and probably about as prosperous.

    Frankly that is an insane comment and not worthy of a direct response.

    I’ll be gone JC but you? How old are you?

    Old know to know I’m talking to a doctor’s wife, Dougsie.

    Does it occur to no-one that the philosophy these clowns support is the exactly the same one that brought us such highlights as the global financial meltdown and the Iraq war. This is not to do with left and right but with right and wrong. Wake up you lot.

    Oh Please. If you think recessions were a thing of the past, I have news for you.

    Dougsie, are you an Uncle Bob and Tubbsie Milne supporter?

    Take an anti-depressant and ease up.

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