It’s a time warp; with a jump to the left and a step to the right …

The Fairfax media have been publishing articles here and here where a whole bunch* of economic experts have been wheeled out in support of a carbon price.

Ken Henry, Bernie Fraser and Ross Garnaut are lions of Australian economics. They carry more intellectual and institutional weight than most of us mere mortals put together.

So if they broadly agree on any course of action we should all probably sit up and listen, right?

and

Three of Australia’s senior economists have backed carbon pricing as the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions.

That is so last decade.

Here is the thing: The correct theoretical solution to a long-lived stock pollutant is a tax. The correct theoretical solution to a short-lived flow pollutant is a cap and trade scheme – think acid rain. I suspect most economists would agree with those very broad and policy vacuous statements.

Translating theory into policy is hard. Acid rain was an obvious problem, there was a known economic solution to that problem, it was implemented, and the problem more or less resolved. To be sure there was a lot of initial resistance to the idea of introducing a cap and trade scheme. What we saw there was a genuinely innovative policy response.

Let’s have a look then at global warming. It is a less obvious problem. The argument being that at some undetermined point in the near future temperatures will rise causing discomfort and imposing huge economic costs on the global population. This is due to an increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere – caused largely by human activity since the industrial revolution. To the extent that we all agree that CO2 emissions are a problem, and we want to do something about those emissions, then theory tells us that the least-cost solution would be to impose a tax on CO2 emissions (and of course equivalent emissions from other gasses that have the same or similar effect).

But here are some of the hurdles:

  • agreement that global warming is actually a problem,
  • agreement that we actually want to do something about it,
  • translating a theoretical tax into an actual tax.

Now some people get stuck at the very first hurdle, others at the second, and still more at the third.

The fact is we have experience in trying to translate theoretical solutions into practical policies. All three of those economists named above have practical experience in this area.

  • Ken Henry managed the implementation and introduction of the GST. This was a very successful tax reform – that nearly killed the Howard government. Not so successful on the mining tax – that did actually kill the Rudd government.
  • Ross Garnaut is the intellectual source of the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax. A nuisance tax that actually doesn’t generate much income and probably stifles new investment.
  • Bernie Fraser is a former Treasury Secretary and RBA governor. He has seen the operation of fiscal and monetary policy from both side of the policy spectrum.

The Australian carbon tax/price is not and cannot be a solution to the global problem of CO2 emissions (that I’m happy to define as being a long-lived stock pollutant). It is not part of the solution and is not the beginning of a solution either. In fact, given that the carbon tax is designed to evolve into a cap and trade scheme it is the wrong solution from a theoretical perspective. It has no redeeming features whatsoever.

Now for economists of their political persuasion to concede any of those points is heresy.

If you think global warming is a problem due to global CO2 emissions, then the solution to that problem is a global tax. That isn’t happening any time soon.

What then of the argument that Australia should reduce its own CO2 emissions even if everyone else does nothing? Okay. I’m happy to accept that this might be a choice Australians make. We have well-developed mechanisms for making collective choices called elections. The most recent election was just seven months ago and the party promising to repeal the carbon tax/price won a thumping majority. The Australian electorate having experienced the carbon tax didn’t like it, and voted against it at the 2013 election. The Australian electorate didn’t want a carbon tax at the 2010 election either.

So we end up at the position where experts are telling the electorate that they should accept a tax (evolving into a cap and trade) that they didn’t want four years ago but got anyway and still don’t like? A tad out of touch.

* Yes I know. For the grammar nazi’s we have bunches of bananas and groups of people. I’m just wondering what a collective noun would be for economists? A “hand” of economists or, on the other hand, a bunch of economists?

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88 Responses to It’s a time warp; with a jump to the left and a step to the right …

  1. Rabz

    agreement that global warming is actually a problem

    What is this ‘global warming’ of which you speak?

  2. oldmisery

    A ‘Disagreement’of economists?

  3. Robert O.

    For a Carbon Tax to work you have to a mathematical significant relationship between levels of carbon dioxide and global temperatures: Since one is constant and the other is rising it does not exist, hence a total waste of time, apart from lining spruiker’s pockets. Just think of the basic logic; there a gas with levels of 400 ppm., (0.04%) of the atmosphere controlling global temperatures when, in fact, they are controlled by the water cycle and the various latent heats of water, ice and vapour and the distribution of solar input from the tropics to the poles. Since the models on which the AGW hypothesis have been found to be erroneous why would one continue to accept them?

  4. Jazza

    So what’s new?
    Fairfax media refuses to accept that Australia convincingly threw out their beloved leftist crooks and installed an adult competent steady government to repair the shambles left behind.
    They have been making this attitude abundantly clear since September 2013′s election and no doubt will continue it till their cash flow- so very erratic and inadequate and growing more so each week– finally dries up completely.
    In other words., Fairfax media is an irrelevance and anything it emits is pure silly rubbish fit only for scoffers to practise their skills!

  5. Rabz

    Ken Henry, Bernie Fraser and Ross Garnaut

    So if they broadly agree on any course of action we should all probably sit up and listen, right?

    Right, if only to then take the exact opposite course of action to any they advocate.

  6. Cold-Hands

    What is this ‘global warming’ of which you speak?

    The beneficial gradual increase in temperature from the frigidity of the little Ice Age to the balmy days like the Medieval Optimum?

  7. entropy

    A group of economists could be a “toss up” of economists. The singular version would therefore be “tosser.”

  8. Bruce of Newcastle

    Ken Henry and Ross Garnaut directly contributed to the Treasury’s report on the carbon tax.

    I read it. It was the shonkiest financial analysis I have ever read from a supposedly credible group. There was no discussion of the assumptions. There were holes you could drive a bus through. If a consultancy ever submitted such a report to me, and I’ve commissioned and done dozens of such analyses over the years, they would never get work from me again. And if I’d produced such a report I would have been sacked for incompetence.

    And Bernie Fraser is chairman of the Climate Change Authority which the Government is committed to abolishing, for good reason.

    Even if global warming could be considered dangerous, which it isn’t, the professional approach would be to transparently calculate the economic cost of proposed climate action against the base case of ordinary amelioration of the effects as they arise. Comparison NPV calcs, in other words. These guys have never done this. Lord Stern at least tried to, but betrayed himself by so pushing the assumptions and discount rates into fantasy levels as to discredit himself. These guys didn’t even try.

    And Fairfax calls them “lions of Australian economics” eh?

  9. Alex Davidson

    Talk of collective choices makes me nervous. Especially when they deprive me of my property. I thought you were a libertarian.

  10. entropy

    the professional approach would be to transparently calculate the economic cost of proposed climate action against the base case of ordinary amelioration of the effects as they arise. Comparison NPV calcs, in other words. These guys have never done this. Lord Stern at least tried to, but betrayed himself by so pushing the assumptions and discount rates into fantasy levels as to discredit himself. These guys didn’t even try.

    Quite so

  11. feelthebern

    A group of economists? Maybe a basket case of economists?

    After one particularly unsavory mining deal my former employer was involved in, the following term was coined: “A Perth of Thieves”.

  12. Rabz

    The beneficial gradual increase in temperature from the frigidity of the little Ice Age to the balmy days like the Medieval Optimum?

    No, I don’t think that‘s it.

  13. Joe Goodacre

    So we end up at the position where experts are telling the electorate that they should accept a tax (evolving into a cap and trade) that they didn’t want four years ago but got anyway and still don’t like? A tad out of touch.

    Well put.

  14. entropy

    The Garnaut export was first and foremost a political document. I had a peripheral involvement and know quite well some of the people involved in putting together bits of it. In the area that touched on my interests, I asked the people doing the analysis if they were modelling what alternative scenarios were they modelling (apart from the key one of a world trading scheme). In particular, what happens to the industries in a scenario with an Australian ETS if the rest of the world, and in particular our competitors in said industries, do not participate. I was told, in a tone that sounded like between gritted teeth, that it was not part of the study. I asked if it was intended that it would eventually be done, and again, firmly told it would not. I suspect that this had been a vigorous argument that was lost.

    To give you an idea how rubbish that report was, look at the section canvassing converting the beef industry to kangaroo farming. You would think that a key export industry would get a bit of serous consideration for looking at ways to reduce its emissions, but The entire section was based on one paper prepared by a Canberra activist, using an excel spreadsheet model that simply converted Dry Stock Equivalents for cattle to its kangaroo equivalent. It truly was that stupid.

  15. entropy

    Export=report. Bloody bus combined with iPad. Sorry.

  16. Sinclair, a great post.

    There are major differences between a carbon tax and emissions trading.

    First, the history of cap-and-trade systems suggests that the carbon emission allowances are usually given away to carbon emitters, which are free to use them or sell them at market prices. The price of energy products would rise as they would under a carbon tax, but governments would collect no revenue to reduce other taxes and compensate consumers.

    Second, agreement on a global cap-and-trade system is hard to imagine.

    A global carbon tax is easier to negotiate. All nations could agree to use a carbon tax as one of their instruments to raise revenue and use the proceeds to compensate consumers with tax relief or whatever else pleases them. No money needs to change hands across national borders.

    Third, a carbon tax is now being championed by groups and political parties that previously would deny to their graves that taxes have significant incentive effects, and that taxes do not affect the supply of labour or the rate and direction of investment to any important degree.

    It is suspicious that groups and parties that deny tax cuts increase the labour supply and investment or otherwise change behavior take time out from these foundational beliefs to support a tax because of the incentives it gives to reduce carbon consumption. They want it both ways.

  17. .

    # The climate models are buggered.
    # Globally ameliorating emissions on current policies would reduce GDP to subsistence levels.
    # The public doesn’t care anymore.

  18. Sinclair Davidson

    I thought you were a libertarian.

    Being mindful collective choice and democracy isn’t incompatible with being a libertarian. Indeed quite the contrary, being contemptuous of the issues of collective choice and democracy makes one a authoritarian or totalitarian.

  19. John Comnenus

    A clueless of Keynesian economists and an enterprise of Austrian economists.

  20. Barry

    From here

    1. a confusion of economists
    2. an assumption of economists
    3. an irrelevance of economists
    4. a surplus of economists
    5. a conjecture of economists
    6. a labyrinth of economists
    7. a contradiction of economists
    8. a number of economists
    9. a hand of economists
    10. an embarrassment of economists
    11. a dismal of economists
    12. a deficit of economists
    13. a macro of economists
    14. an aggregate of economists
    15. a panic of economists
    16. a consensus of economists
    17. a monstrosity of economists
    18. a dirty wallet of economists
    19. a recession of economists

  21. candy

    I don’t know why economists dismiss the Direct Action plan out of hand. There seems to be a lot going for it in terms of cleaning up and maintenance of targeted areas, not just planting seedlings.
    And it gives a part time job to a lot of young people for a period of time. It’s not as much as minimum wage but it’s more than work for the dole and there’s some skill learning. What’s so wrong with that?
    So I think there’s value to that in all sorts of ways, not just measured by “carbon reduction”.

  22. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Barry, my neurones are firing well this morning. I had already thought of at least six of those. ;)

    Glowball warming? Oh noes. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
    They don’t call it that anymore.
    They call it ‘Extreme Weather’ now.
    Covers all bases for them and sets off a whole new round of research grants.
    And this piece of fantasy is even more of an unfalsifiable hypothesis, natch.

  23. Tintarella di Luna

    Sinc would you be offended by the conversion of the word “twerk” into a collective noun?

    as in a twerk of economists?

  24. Up The Workers!

    An ‘insolvency’ of economists?

    A ‘caucus’ of economists?

    Or is that a tautology?

  25. .

    Don’t associate me with Miley or Clive. FFS.

  26. .

    entropy
    #1224077, posted on March 14, 2014 at 9:49 am
    The Garnaut export was first and foremost a political document.

    Have you read the Stern review?

    It really is a polemical written by Stern’s barely literate research assistants, piss poor, utterly wrongly presumptuous modeling, absurd theories and bizarre conclusions.

    He should have been sent to the nuthouse after that.

  27. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    it gives a part time job to a lot of young people for a period of time

    As long as it is not accompanied by further CO2 indoctrination, Candy. These kids have had enough of that. They should be induced to grow out of Green doomsaying nonsense and actively seek a job.

    I’d prefer to dispense with all the tree planting mania (too many trees most places already) and send the little dears to help out in an old folks’ home. Or if they must do something ‘environmental’ – pick up rubbish along highways.

  28. .

    candy
    #1224116, posted on March 14, 2014 at 10:14 am
    I don’t know why economists dismiss the Direct Action plan out of hand. There seems to be a lot going for it in terms of cleaning up and maintenance of targeted areas, not just planting seedlings.
    And it gives a part time job to a lot of young people for a period of time. It’s not as much as minimum wage but it’s more than work for the dole and there’s some skill learning. What’s so wrong with that?
    So I think there’s value to that in all sorts of ways, not just measured by “carbon reduction”.

    DA is fine, but does it pass a cost benefits test as a public policy?

    Market forces will see this happen. How many farmers burn their stubble anymore? Very few. The race to lower input costs has seen farmers take on NSF or carbon coalition/holistic methods.

    I say let market forces rip and let farmers, who are some of the best custodians, look after the land. The same with forestry. The more and more forestry product there is as furniture and buildings, the more carbon gets locked up.

    As for work for the dole schemes…making work destroys real jobs – it is no different to the stimulus etc. Work for the dole is only good in as far as it rejects a culture of entitlement. The benefits it has are overblown. Mostly it is a waste.

  29. Michel Lasouris

    An “econocopia” of economists?

  30. Driftforge

    If you think global warming is a problem due to global CO2 emissions, then the solution to that problem is a global tax. That isn’t happening any time soon

    It is the only solution, if you get past 1 & 2. Realistically, to conduct it, you need an array of satellites that measure the CO2 levels transiting each national boundary, integrating the difference in levels across the boundaries.

    That is a technical challenge that can be met.

    The politically difficult bit is not how much to levy, but managing what to do with the monies received.

  31. BenM

    An oversupply of economists.

  32. .

    Don’t get me wrong candy. DA can be cheap. The cost of planting a tree was once around $0.45 all up.

    For the billions spent on the CCA and so on so far, we could have planted tens of billions of trees and reduced net emissions more than anyone else without a damned tax.

    Governments have also stopped private enterprise from reducing atmospheric CO2. How stupid is that? Stop private enterprise and then whack on a tax to lower private production to reduce emissions?

    The mob that was doing green work for profit before the UN and a coalition of governments put a stop to threats to the UN/IPCC gravy train:

    http://geo-engineering.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/planktos-seeding-oceans-with-iron.html

  33. Rabz

    A pandemonium of economists.

    A bellowing of economists.

  34. Andrew

    The most recent election was just seven months ago and the party promising to repeal the carbon tax/price won a thumping majority.

    Incorrect. BOTH the thumping and the thumpee parties went to election with a policy to terminate the carbon tax. This is not a case of Abbott666 trying to exert a mandate that others have a mandate to oppose. It was the bipartisan position at the election that the WBCT was killing jobs and boosting the cost of living as an inefficient mechanism for achieving abatement (which both parties agreed was of itself desirable).

    It is a fact that the introduction of the WBCT saw AUS emissions fall by zero point

    wait for it

    one percent. 0.1%.

    ie putting 130,000 people on the dole queue since the WBCT (and during a global employment boom, ex EU) has reduced global emissions by 0.0015%.

    The fact that professional wrongologist Henry, enviro-criminal Garnaut and industry fund rent seeker Fraser think it’s a good idea thoroughly discredits it.

    Can someone (clearly not the warmist meeja) ask these clowns one question: If it’s such a good idea, why doesn’t anyone else outside the EU have a carbon tax?

  35. Biota

    As in geese, a gaggle of economists.

  36. Wozzup

    The fundamental problem for me is that even if one accepts that global warming is occurring and is attributable to man-made causes i.e. primarily the pumping of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere it is dumb to assume that unilateral action by a small economy like Australia will achieve a bloody thing. In fact we know it will not reduce global warming by more than a tiny fraction of a degree. Infinitesimal~!

    Our contribution to reducing global emissions may actually increase it (by making Australian products more expensive so people instead buy cheaper “dirty” products from China or elsewhere that have been produced with “dirty” energy or other inputs.

    All our unilateral action in the way of a carbon tax does is (a) it lowers the living standards of ordinary Australians by making everything more expensive and (b) it lowers our ability to actually do something useful later by making us all more poor now.

    Lets be gracious for a moment and assume something is needed to occur for the sake of the argument. If we concede that, then the next step is to ask… What?. The answer has to be that the only kind of action that will make any difference at all is multilateral (and perhaps some bilateral) agreements at the international level to take action to reduce carbon emissions. Failing this unilateral action by Australia is what economists call a “second best” solution. A second best solution in economists’ terms is one as I understand it that actually has negative outcomes. i.e. as I have argued above it can cause people to abandon buying more expensive taxed Australian products and instead buy cheaper even dirtier ones from overseas – thereby actually contributing to global warming.

    The imposition of a carbon tax is an excellent example of dreadfully bad policy making. It was not even ideological – it was made for wholly political reasons. And it was imposed on Australians against their wishes and against a promise made int the election that preceded it. Little wonder Labor is so hated right now. It was not only an incompetent government it was an untrustworthy, valueless and deceitful one to boot! A prime example of a bad government behaving badly.

  37. candy

    Don’t get me wrong candy. DA can be cheap. The cost of planting a tree was once around $0.45 all up.

    You’re the expert, Dot, and I always bow to your knowledge.

    (I’m just saying I think the simplest and time honoured way of greening the environment might be best after all and there may be other societal advantages too).

  38. craig

    Julia’s body language is so telling, palms face down just said it all for me

  39. johanna

    Sorry, Sinc, “acid rain” was a scam too. That and the banning of CFCs because of the alleged growth of the hole in the ozone layer were dry runs for the climate scam.

    Bjorn Lomborg, who actually believes in the climate scam, trashed the “acid rain” furphy in his book here.

    Lomborg’s “The Skeptical Environmentalist” is worth reading.

  40. Baldrick

    A squabble of economists.

  41. Porcelain Monkey

    A confusion of economists?

    It seems that the most ardent spruikers of the threat of CAGW (is that the right term this week?) do not have a scientific or engineering background. In these two fields it is necessary to look at all of the evidence available, favourable and unfavourable, and evaluating the accuracy of it all. Richard Feynman’s “Cargo Cult Science” is good reading as an introduction to what the scientific process should be.

    The acceptance of models as evidence should not be allowed. It should be noted that the output of models are now generally noted to be projections rather than predictions. Accuracy and agreement with observations does not come into it. Box’s statement that “Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful” is particularly apt. Every single one of the 70 or so General Circulation Models used around the world has been shown to be wrong. To rely on them to form public policy is foolish.

    There is still no evidence that CO2 is or can be a major driver of climate change. Given the abundance of coal and gas, Australia should have the cheapest electricity in the world .

  42. H B Bear

    Ken Henry, Bernie Fraser and Ross Garnaut are lions The Stooges of Australian economics.

    The Wombat Whisperer’s PR team are really in high gear this week. Fraser and Garnaut, like many public figures, continue to trade off credibility earned decades ago and long since lost.

  43. nic

    Fairfax will promote any criticism of Abbott, especially that which relates to pet topics such as illegal immigration and climate change.

  44. John Comnenus

    Direct Action is nothing more than the tithe that the LNP feel forced to pay to the Universal Church of Global Warming.

    I am all for joining the more affordable Church of Rational Sceptics. The annual tithe is little more than a healthy sense of curiosity mixed with a rational approach to possible problems informed by a strong streak of iconoclastic disdain for the intellectual pretensions of the global elite.

  45. Tel

    The GST was successful not because it was a great tax, but because it involved getting rid of a whole bunch of much worse (more complex, more unfair and more unfathomable) taxes such as wholesale sales tax. Replacing them with a relatively simple and ubiquitous system.

    The mining tax failed because it tried to do the opposite.

  46. John Comnenus

    As I have argued before Australia needs no more than three taxes with three rates and no exemptions.

  47. .

    I like the idea of a tax system consisting of a GST, LVT and a royalties system, subject to a TABOR and with the principle of never raising taxes. The GST would start at 10% as it is now and never go higher for example.

    Imagine the growth and entrepreneurial activity if we in a couple of decades had a 5% GST, 2.5% royalty rate and a 1% LVT – and no other taxes.

  48. Anne

    A ‘wad’ of economists. Works on so many levels! ;-p

  49. calli

    A ‘guess’ of economists? Or would that be estimators?

  50. Anne

    Wad – “a number of especially flat and/or small objects pressed tightly together”, Wad of banknotes, Wadding/padding/stuffing, Doom Wad, Dickwad and the others. ;-D

    …come on…I should get a prize for that!

  51. Louis Hissink

    An inflation of Keynesians and deflation of Austrians.

    :-)

  52. brc

    A dickens of economists.

    As in : stories about pickpockets, shysters and thieves.

  53. brc

    Oh, and the public doesn’t care any more.

    Wy hasn’t anyone asked the ALP if they will take a carbon tax/price to the 2016 election? Does anyone seriously think they will? Are they hoping fr another ‘angry summer’ that will turn voters towards carbon taxing?

  54. Snoopy

    The cost of planting a tree was once around $0.45 all up.

    Tree planting gives me the irrits. It’s totally unnecessary. Trees are just big weeds. All that’s needed for trees to multiply is for stock to be kept off. Just look at ex-grazing properties whose owners have walked off/been foreclosed by banks (many subsequently subdivided into ‘bush’ retreats).

    Another example: Cape York is now covered in thick scrub, not the open savanna of historical times due to reduction in firestick ‘farming’.

  55. manalive

    If you think global warming is a problem due to global CO2 emissions, then the solution to that problem is a global voluntary tax.

  56. Anne

    Brc,

    Wy hasn’t anyone asked the ALP if they will take a carbon tax/price to the 2016 election? Does anyone seriously think they will?

    Why would they need to ‘take it’ to an election to implement it? They didn’t last time.

  57. .

    Snoopy
    #1224232, posted on March 14, 2014 at 11:36 am
    The cost of planting a tree was once around $0.45 all up.

    Tree planting gives me the irrits. It’s totally unnecessary

    Does anyone bother to read anyone else’s comments anymore?

  58. Wanderer

    I’m just wondering what a collective noun would be for economists?

    A failure of economists.

  59. Squirrel

    I got to “lions of Australian economics” and the wankometer was off the scale. This is just another shot in the campaign to deligitimise the Abbott Government, and all of a piece with the other current strand being run about the heresy and horror of pointing Martin Parkinson in the direction of other employment opportunities.

    Anyway, thanks Sinclair, for the Rocky Horror reference – “don’t dream it, be it”.

  60. Can someone (clearly not the warmist meeja) ask these clowns one question: If it’s such a good idea, why doesn’t anyone else outside the EU have a carbon tax?

    Before you make a fool of yourself by asking silly questions, get your facts straight.
    Countries thus far that have some form of a carbon tax include Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, India, Finland, the Netherlands, France, Slovenia, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Costa Rica, Brazil and South Africa. China is experimenting with seven different pilot carbon pricing programs with a view to rolling out the best model nationally by 2015. Watch this accelerate after the most recent pollution issues in Beijing.
    US states implementing some form of carbon tax include California, Maryland and Cloarado.

    “Anyone else outside the EU” presumably includes Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, India, Costa Rica, Brazil and South Africa as well as the US states.

  61. vlad

    I’d suggest a “dismality” of economists.

  62. candy

    I’m not convinced it matters what other countries do, 1735099.

    Household power bills are a big issue in Australia. It’s a big bill to pay. Why should our energy cost so much when we’re a natural resource rich country. It just doesn’t seem fair.

  63. brc

    Why would they need to ‘take it’ to an election to implement it? They didn’t last time.

    Because they are standing in the way of its removal. Why stand in the way of removal unless you are not taking it to the next election as a policy?

  64. I’m not convinced it matters what other countries do, 1735099.

    So we have the planet all to ourselves, Candy?

  65. James

    As I have argued before Australia needs no more than three taxes with three rates and no exemptions.

    Well, then, since you’ve argued it before, it must be settled!

  66. brc

    “Anyone else outside the EU” presumably includes Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, India, Costa Rica, Brazil and South Africa as well as the US states.

    People should be alert to this red herring.

    All other programs – EU included – do not have the scope or price level of Australis tax.

    A global treaty is dead in the water- Kyoto will never be resurrected. Canada and Japan have withdrawn formally, china will never sign and anyone who says otherwise is dreaming.

    There is a fundamental difference between a token program and the industry and job destroying mess that Australia has.

    And remember, collectively, all these taxes will make zero difference to the future climate, using the figures of the IPCC.

  67. Nanuestalker

    Please fuck off Spud.

  68. candy

    So we have the planet all to ourselves, Candy?

    I reckon the government needs to support its own citizens first, and there’s millions on various pensions and low incomes who need that support into the future, plus there’s an NDIS in the workings, which seems a popular policy. Lots of other priorities first, before fussing about climate. Direct Action is budget capped with no strings to any other country. It’s enough.

  69. johanna

    Indeed, brc. In fact, if you look at the fine print, these are almost all token gestures to appease environmentalists. What’s more, many of them have been deferred indefinitely – e.g. Japan in the wake of the tsunami, or have collapsed – e.g. the attempt by a few US States to create a “carbon trading market.”

  70. A couple of inconvenient truths -
    1. Carbon trading is doing OK in California.

    2. Quebec has a cap and trade scheme.

  71. johanna

    California? You mean the State that is drowning in debt, is losing businesses to Texas and other less repressive States, and has ever-increasing energy prices thanks to dopey greenie policies?

    Oh, and Quebec is Canada’s Tasmania – impoverished and reliant on other people’s taxes to survive.

  72. Rabz

    Quebec is Canada’s Tasmania – impoverished and reliant on other people’s taxes to survive.

    Which is why the secessionist movement there has finally died in the arse.

  73. jupes

    1. Carbon trading is doing OK in California.

    Really? What has been the effect on global temperature?

  74. My original point – that Carbon Trading schemes operate in countries outside Europe stands.
    It’s interesting to observe when what happens when you call a lie on this site.
    It’s always one of two reactions – abuse or an avalanche of red herrings.

  75. johanna

    You have proved no such thing.

  76. jupes

    It’s always one of two reactions – abuse or an avalanche of red herrings.

    Asking for the effect on global temperature is not a red herring.

    If the aim of ‘carbon’ trading isn’t to effect global temperature, what is the point?

  77. You have proved no such thing.

    What part of “countries outside Europe” do you not understand?

  78. rebel with cause

    In the Australian context, the carbon tax would literally be a tax on energy production. Take a look at our list of ‘big polluters’ – the majority are coal fired plants.

    Pay more for power, do sweet fa for the environment. No wonder Australians keeping knocking back the carbon tax at the ballot box.

  79. Anne

    Why would they need to ‘take it’ to an election to implement it? They didn’t last time.

    Because they are standing in the way of its removal. Why stand in the way of removal unless you are not taking it to the next election as a policy?

    Good point Brc. It’d be nice to hear someone articulate that publicly.

  80. Andrew of Randwick

    Acid rain was an obvious problem, there was a known economic solution to that problem, it was implemented, and the problem more or less resolved

    .
    What Wikipedia doesn’t tell you (and for you Victorians burning dirt, you have to learn some coal chemistry) …
    1) The predominant source of high quality black coal (bituminous) in the USA was the eastern states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Illinois. These coals had high calorific value (energy/mass), good volatile matter (hence the bitumen link – they were impregnated with greasy CxHy hydrocarbons), low inherent moisture, and had very low ash (the non combustible fraction). The opposite end is soggy dirty brown coal – and even further down the road “wood”, i.e. unformed coal.
    2) If these high quality coals did not make the grade to be Coking Coal (due to other chemistry) they were the perfect for Steaming Coal – shove it into a power station and go hell for leather with high efficiencies and low costs. (And as shipping costs are too high from the East Coast it could not be exported to Japan/Korea and thus there was no export price alternatives to push up prices)
    3) Now these eastern coals did have high sulfur content, and when acid rain was deemed a bad thing, and after you had put flue gas de-sulfurisation (FGDS) and nitrous oxide removal (NOX) on your power plant and you still could not make the grade – then you needed low sulfur coal as feedstock
    4) So all the coal mines in the East (except coking coal ones, and ones down south in Alabama) shut down and W.Va was devastated and remains the poorest US State to this day.
    5) Low sulfur, and lower quality coal, is found out west in Wyoming (e.g. Powder River Basin), so lets ship it by train across the whole of United States (because the power plants were not shifted). Everybody wins, and train line owners make a fortune as well. Problem solved.
    Acid Rain fixed US style.
    .
    I rather liked the Czech Government’s approach, when pressed by the Swedes to switch from high sulfur brown coal to cleaner (more expensive) black coal – said….
    “Right. The acid rain is not falling on us because the winds are predominately northerly. Thus is you want the rain fixed then you can pay for the FGDS, and the switch to black coal”
    And the Swedes and the Germans did pay.
    .
    The Polish Government was beaten into submission another way. “Alright here is all our foreign aid (USA & EU) , but it must be spent on FGDS and NOX reduction equipment on your power plants – and you must use our suppliers for the capital equipment”
    And they did.
    .
    P.S. For completion. There is another type of coal cycle used in Australia up until we went mad. Get a dirty low quality coal deposit that can’t be made to export grade (without huge losses in yield) , reserve it as power station feed and then put the electricity plant next door to the mine – and let her rip. Even if the feed is 30-40% ash (non combustible material), then you just get bigger conveyor belts for feed and ash removal (and a bit bigger boiler). THAT WAS HOW WE USED TO MAKE ELECTRICITY AT 2c/kWhr

  81. Combine Dave

    “Anyone else outside the EU” presumably includes Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, India, Costa Rica, Brazil and South Africa as well as the US states.

    Fact Checker; number’s claim = false.

    US: No carbon tax.
    Australia: Soon to be rolled back.
    New Zealand: set at a miniscule amount (relative to our tax).
    South Korea: No carbon tax as yet.
    Japan: Currently 1/6 of Australia’s Carbon tax and likely to be reduced further. Japan has also indicated they are building more coal plants and reducing their planned cuts to emissions.
    Taiwan: No Carbon tax.
    India: Limited Carbon tax. Emissions have been sky rocketing.
    Finland: Carbon tax in place however it excludes many CO2 emission intensive industries to ensure Finland’s industries are not disadvantaged by the tax.
    EU: Mixture of nations with taxes/ETS and no taxes. The EU is also set to ditch legally-binding renewable energy targets after finding the policy has failed industry and consumers by driving up electricity bills.
    Costa Rica: Carbon tax since 1997.
    Brazil: No carbon tax.
    South Africa: No carbon tax.
    China: No carbon tax, emissions have been sky rocketing.

  82. Andrew of Randwick

    If one brings personalities into the argument, as opposed to bringing argument to the argument – then it is appropriate to look their track records (of success)
    .
    Ross Garnaut (Petroleum Resource Rent Tax) . The PRRT was only required because the exploitation was outside the 3 nautical mile limit (or is that 12?) that is the boundary of the States. Otherwise there was no reason for the Feds to get involved. Also not real good as Chairman of Lihir Gold as I recall.
    Ken Henry (Mining Tax) . SPT and MRRT where flawed from Day 1. Minerals belong to Crown – our Constitution says the States are the Crown (see bottom). And so Miners pay “royalties” to the States. The MRRT is collecting about $8B per year – BUT you must reimburse the miners for the State Royalties they had paid – about $8B per year. Oops Ken, did you forget to tell Kevin that?
    Bernie Fraser (a former public servant). His promotion of Industry Superfunds must diminish his standing and lessen his persuasive powers.
    .
    They are just retired men looking for relevance and trying boosting their speaking fees.
    .

    The Australian Constitution
    106. The Constitution of each State of the Commonwealth shall, subject to this Constitution, continue as at the establishment of the Commonwealth, or as at the admission or establishment of the State, as the case may be, until altered in accordance with the Constitution of the State.
    The NSW State Constitution
    All other minerals (not gold, not silver) are reserved to the Crown where the relevant land grant was made after 1884. The Crown Lands Act 1884 defined “minerals” for the purposes of the Act as including a relatively short list of minerals, with provision for additional minerals to be added by proclamation of the Governor. Prior to 1884, reservation of minerals to the Crown under a land grant was made on an ad hoc basis

  83. brc

    It is true that countries or provinces outside the EU have carbon taxes (more so if you include so-called ‘carbon prices’)

    It is not true that any of these schemes are remotely comparable to the utterly insane, export and job destroying Australian carbon tax. A tax so useless it cost $4 billion more to implement in the first year than it collected, a tax that has cost thousands of jobs and that Australian voters voted against twice. A tax devised and implemented at the behest of the greens party – the only redeeming feature of which is that they have a comprehensive list of anti-policies – polices you should do the exact opposite of. A tax which the vast majority of Australians hate, but which is still around because a useless leader of the opposition can’t make his mind up about what they stand for. A tax that sealed the fate of two prime ministers and destroyed the ambition of one liberal leader. A tax that has no redeeming features at all, except to reveal the ideologically insane hiding among us by them showing support for it and tying themselves into Gordian knots of stupidity trying to convince us it is a good idea.

  84. Andrew of Randwick

    Combine Dave @ 2:45pm.
    Last time I looked India has a CO2e tax of 20 rupees per tonne. As 1 tonne of C produces 3.7 tonnes of CO2e – so say 73 rupees per tonne of C, or about $3 per tonne of Coal (exc. coal chemistry complications)
    Now imported Steaming Coal into India goes CIF for around $150-200 per tonne. So the effect of the tax is a coal price of $153-203 per tonne. Whoopeee.
    That is why India is not slowing down its growth in the burning of Coal.
    The inefficiencies and corruption in the production of Domestic Coal in India is a story for another day.

  85. johanna

    Umm – still sticking by that assertion that acid rain was an undeniable problem, Sinc? And then positing “market based” solutions?

    Here’s the thing. Since the 1970s, radical environmentalists have been confecting “global” problems and then putting themselves in the driver’s seat for “solutions.”

    It’s a scam, ab initio. There are no global problems in terms of the environment, only local ones. However, just as the Federal Government is cited by some as the solution to local problems, the radical environmentalists and politicians and bueaucrats looking to a career path have redefined these as “global.”

  86. Andrew

    LOL India??? Ground zero of Pachauriism??? Hahahahahaha – what a fucking imbecile.

    A nominal 90c/t so that they are theoretically a “carbon price” country and could scam other countries for $25/t with their “offset” scams. Dickhead.

  87. CafeAnarchist

    I’d add another key point.

    What makes us think climate should unchanging?

    Quite simply it never has been unchanging. Most of the time the earth is in ice age which last in the order of a 100,000 years. The inter-glacial periods are 10,000-20,000 years and not the normal state of the earth.

    The current inter-glacial has been a longish one fortunately. The climate question we should be asking is how much longer have we got? Our current Holocene inter-glacial has already run longer than two of the past three – so not much more on that basis. At best if it runs as long as the last inter-glacial then there is 4000 years to go.

    We don’t have a particularly long time left. We only started developing farming and cities about 8000 years ago. Its about 200 generations at best. Perhaps we better pump out some more CO2.

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