Carbon charges: how much do we want to pay?

I have a piece in the Australian today featuring a survey of how much people are prepared to pay to reduce CO2 emissions and how much they are currently paying. The answer is that only 30 per cent of people say they are prepared to spend over $500 a year to reduce emissions (saying and spending are, of course, different things.

The actual average annual costs in taxes from the carbon tax, the renewable energy requirement and the existing bevy of subsidy and grant measures to dozens of different green program’s, as of July, amount to $665 Per person. The Clean Energy Fund, planned at subsidising unviable green projects will, at $20 billion, mean a further $1000 per head. And these measures barely make a dent in the march to the 90 per cent emission reduction that the government is targeting.

Even so, with the first casualty among the “big polluters”,the Kurri Kurri smelter, the government panics and is looking for a fix. It clearly does not believe in the sort of deindustrialisation it says it wants to see. Ironically the smelter is in Climate Minister Combet’s electorate and he is blaming the NSW government for not giving a subsidy. He is also saying the carbon tax has only a trivial effect. Can you believe the ignorance and obfuscation of the leaders we have?

The IPA survey is here.

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55 Responses to Carbon charges: how much do we want to pay?

  1. Rudiau

    Also of concern to me is how much is it going to cost for the administration and policing of the myriad regulations and red tape that will follow with the introduction of this CT, on the public and indusry.

  2. Cory Olsen

    Job losses partially caused by the carbon tax in the electorate of the climate change minister… comedy gold!

  3. Bruce of Newcastle

    Interesting stuff. If I were a Labor numbers man I would read this survey and then emigrate to Mars. The 4 numerically largest categories from the survey are prepared to spend exactly zero to stop (non existant) CAGW:

    54% of below yr 12 of schooling
    47% of <$40k earnings/yr
    46% of +50 yr olds
    45% of blue collar workers

    There you see the problem. Gillard, Combet and Wong just drove half their base into Mr Abbott's open arms. Read it and weep ALP numbers people.

  4. James in Melbourne

    Steve from Brisbane does. And because he believes in conjecture distilled from rigged models that CO2 is warming the world uncontrollably and catastrophically, and I do not, he can pay my share as well. That is, it should be voluntary to believers.

  5. brc

    How on earth do they think they can get away from the closure of heavy industry.

    They go around for years demonising the ‘dirty polluters’ and insisting we need a ‘clean energy future’.

    When the dirty polluters say ‘fine, I’ll shut up shop then’, instead of celebrating the closure of an evil dirty polluter (and thus ushering in the clean skies of their propaganda ads) they insist that ‘something must be done’, then start blaming anything and everything else.

    They hung this stinking albatross of a policy around their neck, they are the ones who wanted closure of heavy ‘polluting’ industry, now when it happens they want to pretend it’s all a big mistake?

    No amount of spin and ‘look over there’ can possibly escape from this one. I hope their polling numbers grind ever lower, and I hope Combet gets booted from his seat.

  6. Rousie

    I like the idea of an old school telethon.

    Caton, Blanchett & a raft of well off other celebrities manning the phones to take donations from the ‘majority’ of people wanting to act on Climate Change.

    “And we are going live to callers…” – crickets chirping

  7. grputland

    When the carbon tax comes in, it will be only the fourth-biggest contributor to Australia’s “deindustrialization”. Read about the top three and tell me what the Right proposes to do about them.

  8. .

    Gavin you are absolutely correct.

    Abolish super and income taxes. No country without an income tax has ever had problem with its savings rate.

    Can you imagine how easy it would be to build wealth if we had no payroll, income or stamp duties, or usurious development charges which are sometimes doubly paid, even if the developer bears the costs?

    A working man could simply invest in residential housing without leveraging equity previously amortised unlevered and become many times wealthier in real terms than from superannuation and retire years if not decades earlier.

    I think we ought to go to three taxes: LVT on UCV, a VAT and extraction royalties. Capped at 10%, 4% and 6%, and adjusted downwards by a TABOR.

  9. .

    without leveraging equity previously amortised unlevered

    …that is to say…you could do so without leveraging the assets in your portfolio already paid off, but by merely borrowing against the value of the asset being purchased.

  10. Rousie

    “We’ve just got our first call from Steve from Brisbane. He’s not working, so won’t be donating, but he is encouraging everyone else to.”

    “They should do it for the children Cate…”

  11. Rousie

    “Tanya Plibersek has dropped by to help us out”

    “Well Cate, all I want to say is that if people don’t donate today then we are all going to die. And that’s not good for the children…”

  12. Rousie

    Telethons aside, I would have thought a good proxy for willingness to pay would be the ratio of utility customers that have opted in to source a proportion of their energy from renewable sources at higher cost.

    I don’t believe the impost would have been anything like an extra $500 per year, but it would still give a better feel for those who are doing as opposed to those who are just saying.

  13. Big Jim

    I’m happy to start the bidding… at absolutely fuck all.

  14. H B Bear

    Electricity companies and airlines have had voluntary contribution mechanisms for green sourced energy and carbon offsets for years. Has anyone reported the take-up rate of these?

    I’m inherently suspicious of any survey asking hypothetical expenditure questions on feelgood issues – the real test is whether people actually put their hands in their own pockets. Unlike the Labor/Green alliance and subsidised rooftop PV users who put it in others.

  15. alan moran

    I’d even pay up to $664 if the whole tax scam were removed. That’d leave me $1 ahead

  16. cohenite

    Any cost estimate of the impact of the carbon fucking tax is bound to be an underestimate unless it takes into account GDP shrinkage and electricity shortages.

  17. The ACT had one of the first green power schemes for early adopters. In it’s first year of operation only three people participated. In Canberra!

  18. Rabz

    I’m more than happy to pay less than zero.

    That includes an immediate refund of the money already stolen from me for this preposterous, chicken little bullshit.

  19. Cato the Elder

    I found one article that suggests breathlessly that the take up-rate is around 10%, but since that was pretty Green in tone and since QANTAS has refused to disclose the rate but put it at around 1% in 2008, I think it’s fair to say that most people won’t voluntarily buy into this crap.

    And never forget that the Greens must be destroyed

  20. entropy

    Just had to replace my HWS. Fortunately, Qld never got around to banning traditional electric HWS or allowing them to access off peak.

    So for 2 grand I have had installed the biggest mother of a hot water system you can get, on off peak. The HWS power bill will continue to be less than $50 a quarter.
    A similar heat pump would have given me solar credits, but I still would have been out of pocket an additional $2000, but it wouldn’t heat fast enough to use off peak. So I would have been spending about the same on electricity. And I would have to change my roof line to go solar. or stick them on sort of frame.

    So I think I am on a winner.

  21. Cato the Elder

    Either that or bottled LPG. 15 minutes re-heat from cold. With 2 teenagers, we need it. Solar is for solemn Green types who only shower for 4 minutes every other day, not for real families. Don’t forget the social and delay cost is on top of the financial disincentive. What codswallop. Solar boost on gas would be good here in QLD but it wasn’t available when I was shopping.

    Oh yes and don’t forget to destroy the Greens

  22. Poor Old Rafe

    The Mayor of the Gold Coast is trying to rally support from local councils to dispute the carbon tax on constitutional grounds. He says it will add 4% to rates and already 10% of ratepayers are in arrears (sounds a bit high). Talking on Radio 2GB, a few hours ago, BoltA may be on now.

  23. Baldrick

    Another cunning plan , throw out the unelected jooliar ,groin traitors “guvmint”desroy alp and groin pardies and the whole bullshit GW shit will vanish if threr is “NO FUNDING”

  24. I am not prepared to pay anything for this giant hoax. The sooner we have an election and this crippling tax dispensed with the better.

  25. John Comnenus

    $1 is too high a tithe to by me an indulgence from the Gaia god of green doom

  26. JC

    Balderick… are you mentally deficient? Your writing suggests you’re highly unstable.

  27. Pickles

    The slug balancer has lost his balance.

  28. $1 is too high a tithe to by me an indulgence from the Gaia god of green doom

    Indeed they should be paying us out of their own pockets.

    Abolishing income and capital gains taxes is probably one of the most important issues this century.

  29. Helen Armstrong

    Baldrick, I know you are a celebrated author of a story of a sausage rolling down a hill, (no less) but you do need to spell better if you want the rest of us unwashed to truly appreciate your message.

    PS Do you mean craig thomson or peter slipper when you say ‘groin traitors?’

  30. Karl Kessel

    The survey results are surprising. There are more people prepared to pay more than on the 2011 Lowy Poll that asked loads of different questions and also has a trend over time.

    The 2011 Lowy Poll is available from:

    and Had:

    39% – would pay nothing
    20% – Up to $120 per year
    13% – Up to $240 per year
    22% – More than $240 per year

    (Total percent is odd at 94% but hey)

  31. James In Footscray

    Did anyone hear the interview with the Climate Institute about the survey (on News Radio on May 23)? Would love to see a transcript, but can’t find one.

    Basically they were saying the IPA had no right to conduct the survey – they’re spreading misinformation, as we’re all being compensated. This spokesperson was very hot under the collar.

  32. Winston SMITH

    The other 6%, Karl, would have been happy with Al Gore paying their contribution.
    Hey, swings and roundabouts, Al.

  33. Winston SMITH

    “Solar boost on gas would be good here in QLD but it wasn’t available when I was shopping.”

    Don’t forget to add in the $40,000 in damages when the crappy bore water chews through the pipes, rots the internal walls and unsettles the foundations, Cato.

    *Destroy the Greens.

  34. alan moran

    James of Fitzroy
    The ABC news Radio did not seek an interview fom me in spite of having my details in the press release. Odd that is!

    Drivve time did an interview in whihc the interviewer expressed astonishment that 37% of people said they did not want to pay anything to save the world

  35. grputland

    Considering that big polluters will get >90% of their emission permits for nothing, and considering that workers will have their tax-free thresholds lifted from an effective $16,000 to an effective $20,542 (allowing for the low-income tax offset), giving tax cuts of $600/year to workers on $20,000/year, and $303/year to workers on $30,000 to $65,000 per year, and considering the welfare cash-splash on the side, anybody who goes around asking working people how much they’re prepared to pay for carbon abatement is indulging in PUSH-POLLING.

  36. Cato the Elder


    A sugar coated turn is still a turd.

    Firstly, the inefficiencies of the churn are, by themselves, sufficient reason to ridicule the whole thing.

    Secondly, perhaps people are smart enough to realise that the “free” permits and “cash splash” are temporary, while the job losses and additional costs are permanent. Even the “tax cuts” are only “L. A . W. – Law” and can be reversed at whim. “Oh, sorry, we spent it all”.

    Thirdly, how is it “push polling” to ask “how much”?

    And, naturally, the Greens must be destroyed

  37. Cato the Elder


    Oh, puhleeze.

    A sugar coated turd is still a turd.

    Firstly, the inefficiencies of the churn are, by themselves, sufficient reason to ridicule the whole thing.

    Secondly, perhaps people are smart enough to realise that the “free” permits and “cash splash” are temporary, while the job losses and additional costs are permanent. Even the “tax cuts” are only “L. A . W. – Law” and can be reversed at whim. “Oh, sorry, we spent it all”.

    Thirdly, how is it “push polling” to ask “how much”?

    And, naturally, the Greens must be destroyed

  38. Cato the Elder

    sorry for the double post, my bad

  39. grputland

    Dear Cato,

    Push-polling is the use of the subjunctive to create a misleading impression under the guise of asking a question without being technically guilty of lying. That’s what you do when you ask people how much worse off they would be willing to be in order to tackle an alleged problem, without telling them that the notorious current proposal for tackling the alleged problem would actually leave most of them better off.

    Meanwhile my letter on the three biggest reverse tariffs in Australia’s tax system has been unpaywalled.

    Yes, the Government botched the carbon tax. Yes, it botched the mining tax. And in so doing, it diverted attention from bigger problems.

  40. Rabz

    the Government botched the carbon tax.

    How do you not botch something as utterly absurd as a tax on carbon dioxide emissions?

    The entire concept is just fucking ludicrous.

  41. alan moran

    Mr Putland is making the suggestion that the IPA is engaged in push polling. We are not a political party and the sample of 1050 is hardly going to turn enough votes to swing an election. The willingness to pay question is used extensively in market research and we cpied the question’s wording from that of a US survey.

    The survey answers need to be handled carefully in a case like this where people’s responses are also a statement of the ethical self expression they may want to portray

  42. Cato the Elder

    That’s what I get for using rhetorical questions on a blog: a solemn answer to the apparent question, not a reply to the real intent.

    I know what push polling is, what I meant to convey was “I don’t agree that asking “how much” constitutes push polling”.

    It’s push polling if you say “would you agree that?”; or if you give one side of the context (the benefits, or detriments, it matters not) without giving the other. This is a straightforward question without considering the context, which remains in the people’s minds. It may give an answer you don’t like. It may even give an answer that is wrong; but it’s not push polling.

    And the Greens must be destroyed

  43. Bruce

    Its also push polling when you don’t give categories that respondents can agree with. This happens all the time with climate related polls. Do you believe in climate change? Of course I bloody believe in climate change I’m not stuck in a block of ice you idiots. And etc.

    In fact I can’t remember a poll which correctly investigated popular thinking, ie along the lines:

    Which statement do you most agree with:

    1. The Earth is warming dangerously and humans are the cause
    2. The Earth is warming slightly, but not dangerously and humans are the main cause
    3. The Earth is warming slightly and natural variation is the main cause
    4. The Earth is not warming
    5. Don’t know

    Sceptics never get options like (2) and (3) and are therefore often called ‘deniers’ when in fact they aren’t.

  44. Cato the Elder

    I agree. But of course it’s so much easier if it’s all black and white; so that the faithful can ignore the (obviously evil and stupid) “deniers”. There are no “sceptics” in that world view, only the faithful and the infidel. I guess we’re lucky they don’t go for fatwas; and that their religion doesn’t (yet) condone assassination. [joke]

    Destroy the Greens.

  45. Bruce of Newcastle

    Alan – Unfortunately, no, the IPA poll again fails to address the crucial issue…is warming dangerous or not?

    I am a scientist, you all have seen what I have said in the past. CO2 on the empirical data appears to warm the planet, as do several other human related vectors. These are all self limiting, therefore warming cannot be dangerous.

    So I cannot truthfully answer with either of the first two options in the IPA poll. In fact I would reluctantly give the third answer because it does not say ‘dangerously’. And would be misinterpreted as a warmist, which I am not. If it had included ‘dangerously’ I would refuse to answer.

    This is a really important point. Unless you collect correct data the results will be distorted.

  46. val majkus

    well I’m just a layman (in scientific terms.) However I’m not stupid and I know how to answer polls so that the result will be ‘not concerned about climate change’ or I think the most recent one I participated in was ‘dismissive of climate change.’
    My main aim when answering the types of poll questions which are put out by the media including the ABC is to show I don’t agree with a carbon tax.

    You’ve gotta get with the flow so if you’re concerned about data non distortion my input is already distorted because of the questions asked in polling!

  47. val majkus

    and I should add I’m an admirer of the IPA

    and how is a scientific layman able to interpret the words ‘warming dangerously’ without being given a range of temperatures?

    No polls have done that in my experience

    What does the IPCC say is ‘dangerous warming’ – 2-5 degrees? How can the layman determine if that is dangerous or not? I know there have been all these scary scenarios, sea level rises, barrier reef demolition, no rain, increased cyclone activitiy, ocean acidification, glacier retreat, distressed polar bears – what level of increased temperature will bring about each of those scenarios – who tells us the layperson

    So sorry Bruce you’re a scientist and I’m a layperson. I feel badly informed by the scientific community and it’s got nothing to do with how polls are worded

  48. val majkus

    in fact the bleatings by the warmists and the Government and its entities that ‘the scientific consensus is …’ implies that even science is done by polls these days

  49. Cato the Elder

    I hates the “c” word, I hates it, I hates it. It’s a good way to run a marriage or a two partner business; but it has nothing to do with science, which is about being right, not about fucking consensus.

    And destroy the Greens

  50. Bruce

    Sorry Val I was trying to be clear in responding to Alan.

    On the text of the IPA poll that Alan linked to I’m quite sure both Richard Lindzen and Michael Mann would pick answer 3. Possibly under protest. Which is silly, but that is what the wording of the four options leads to.

    The point is who cares if humans are affecting the temperature, provided it isn’t dangerous? On the satellite measurement number for sensitivity (which I confirmed to my own satisfaction by a different method) you wouldn’t get 2 C of warming if you burnt all the extractable fossil fuel in the world. Or 1 C more warming within centuries. It is a logarithmic relationship.

    You have to discriminate between ‘dangerous’ and ‘harmless’ human caused warming in polls because the carbon tax as legislated is only justifiable to address dangerous man made warming. Otherwise you will bias high by all those who understand the sceptical position.

  51. val majkus

    well Bruce thanks for replying

    But how do you differentiate between ‘dangerous’ and ‘harmless’ – even UHI can be dangerous if you have no air conditioning

    So I think you’re being too nitpicking – it’s up to you scientists to inform us the public

    It’s not up to polls

    My hero scientist in Aust is
    Warwick Hughes
    and for you who don’t know him here’s his website

  52. Bruce

    Val – Regarding poll questions you can ask yourself this: is it necessary to have a carbon tax to address harmless global warming?

    Obviously, no.

    So the other question, should you have a carbon tax to address dangerous global warming due to CO2?

    Maybe. We could argue it on economics. I personally believe the answer is still ‘no’. But you want to find out how many in the population will say ‘yes’ because they are the ones backing climate action.

    In polling you are trying to find the position of the voters. Which is not the same thing as looking at the science. ‘Harmless’ and ‘dangerous’ in this respect are defined in the mind of the poll respondents.

    As to what would constitute dangerous AGW and how much temperature rise would be dangerous, I don’t know. Humans are very adaptable, as the US troops home from summer in Bagdad could tell you – where it often hits 50 C. But considering history you would think a couple degrees warmer would be beneficial to most countries. More people die from cold in winter than they do of heat in summer (viruses don’t like heat!). CO2 has a measurable effect improving agricultural productivity. We already know that tropical storms don’t increase with temperature, and tornados tend to be more common when it is colder, not warmer. El Nino doesn’t look remotely as bad as Tim Flannery suggested. So all you are left with is sea level rise. Which at the rate of temperature change we’re seeing is so slow that Tim’s house would fall apart from sheer age before its feet got wet.

    And based on the sensitivity data we won’t even get a couple degrees of human caused global warming.

    Which means action is unwarranted. Which as a scientist (but not a climate scientist) I say on blogs often. With lots of links! I’d add more here but the Cat only likes three per post. If you want more links or citations let me know.

  53. val majkus

    then Bruce you have to look at what the words ‘dangerous’ and ‘harmless’ mean in the mind of the layperson who responds to such polls

    ‘dangerous’ I suppose means sea level rises sufficient to sink all those never sinking islands in the Pacific; tidal erosion, all the other things that the alarmists tell us will happen and whether people who listen to and accept those potential events equate those events with temperature rises (however defined whether it be global warming or the recently re named to climate change) and how much thereof I don’t know

    It comes down to as you say public perception of the words ‘harmless’ and ‘dangerous’ which brings us back to the belief or not in AGW or DAGW

    and depending on belief that’s the way most respondents will answer the polls – in my experience doesn’t matter if the word ‘dangerous’ is there or not because there’s been no definition how much is ‘dangerous’ and how much is ‘not dangerous’

    I’ve never had a problem with how to answer polls and most of my colleagues are the same – we know how to show we don’t want a carbon tax which is what the recent climate change polls have been aimed to discover

    I hope I’ve been able to show how a non scientific person looks at those poll questions and I’m sure Richard Lintzen would agree with my approach

  54. Bruce

    Val – Sure, most people would assume the third option in the IPA poll would cover CAGW. But I am people too and I cannot in conscience select the first one because I know there is a contribution by me. I cannot select the second one because I’ve done some pretty serious stats and read a lot of papers to show there is no problem. I don’t want to select the third one because it’ll incorrectly classify me as a warmist. I cannot select ‘don’t know’ because I do know. What would you have me do? Refuse? That just biases the result the same way as if I chose option 3.

    To you poll writers out there, write polls better guys. And don’t push poll, you’ll just infuriate us even more.

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