Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Tony Abbott’s climate plan just can’t work

If you stop to think about it for a minute, it’s obvious that Direct Action won’t work. It doesn’t introduce a proper market mechanism for carbon abatement. It doesn’t seek to cap Australia’s carbon emissions. The odds are against it, even before we examine the depth of the Coalition’s actual commitment to addressing climate change. No wonder Tony Abbott can’t find any economists or climate scientists prepared to support it.

A close look at Abbott’s Direct Action plan, ABC Drum, Ben Eltham, 21 JULY 2011“……What exactly are the policies of the Coalition, and would they work?  After all, there’s been plenty of media scrutiny of the Government’s carbon tax. There’s been precious little on the Opposition’s own carbon policy, which it calls “Direct Action”, or the many sweeping statements on climate change and the carbon tax by Tony Abbott.

On Monday night on the ABC’s PM program, Stephen Long finally examined some of Tony Abbott’s claims. In a stunning piece of forensic investigation, Long single-handedly dismantled the distortions, misrepresentations and bald-faced lies that Tony Abbott continues to advance.

“Full credit to the Opposition Leader’s political skill,” Long said in his report.

“But he’s been aided and abetted by journalists who’ve continued to report unchallenged claims that appear to contradict facts.”….

almost no-one in the mainstream media has bothered to hold Tony Abbott to account. Just to take one example, let’s examine Abbott’s argument, repeated a number of times, that Australia will be “going it alone” in introducing a price on carbon. It’s hard to understand how this argument was ever accepted by anyone. The European Union has had an emissions trading scheme since 2005, whatever its manifest flaws. India has introduced a tax on coal. China has recently announced it will launch a pilot program for emissions trading in the next five years. California, the world’s eighth-largest economy, has an emissions trading scheme at a state level, which will soon be linked to the European scheme.

To say some sections of the Australian media are against the carbon tax is something of an understatement. As Jonathan Holmes pointed out this week on Media Watch, some parts of the talk-back radio sector are spewing out hatred against the Prime Minister that is nothing short of sexual vilification. The anti-carbon tax campaign from the Murdoch tabloids isunbalanced in a different way, cooly and calculatingly mispresenting the factual basis of climate change and the details of the carbon tax for reasons of cynical political animus…….

So let’s exert some scrutiny on Tony Abbott and the Coalition. What is ‘Direct Action’? What does it promise? Will it work?

This is the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan. It promises to “reduce CO2 emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 based on 1990 levels.”….

But even if we believe the Opposition that it remains committed to the 5 per cent target, can Direct Action deliver that?

Despite the rhetoric, Direct Action contains much that is similar to the Government’s carbon policy eventually agreed with the Greens and independents. Like the Government’s policy, it will spend billions on retiring dirty power plants in the La Trobe valley like Hazelwood. Like the Government’s plan, Direct Action promises to invest in clean tech and renewable energy. And, believe it or not, Direct Action also promises to establish a form of carbon pricing.

Unlike the Government’s scheme, however, it will not cap Australia’s carbon emissions, it will not allow carbon pollution credits to be traded on a market, and it will not charge polluters for their emissions.

As the Direct Action policy document states:

Instead, the Coalition plans to tackle carbon emissions by paying industry to pollute less, through an Emissions Reduction Fund.

The Fund will commence operation in 2011-12 with an initial allocation of $300 million, increasing to $500 million in 2012-13, $750 million in 2013-14 and $1 billion by 2014-15. It is envisaged that the Fund will invest an annual average of around $1.2 billion in direct CO2 emissions reduction activities through to 2020.

The Coalition will also spend another billion or so on policies such as its $400 million “one million solar roofs” program.

Totalling those numbers up gives a total spend of $9.22 billion out to 2020. Showing typically fuzzy accounting values, the Coalition has also said it will cap the cost of the program at $10.5 billion out to 2020. That’s money that the Coalition says will come from “normal budget processes”, which means either more tax, more borrowing, or spending cuts. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have already promised that money will not come from extra taxes. That means an incoming Abbott government has committed to more than $10 billion in spending cuts in order to pay for its carbon policies.

Where will the carbon reductions come from?…….

Direct Action is ultimately a competitive grants scheme essentially identical to “cash for clunkers” and other expensive and ineffective government spending programs to reduce emissions that have already failed under the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments – as the Australian National Audit Office and the Grattan Institute have both found. Like these programs, Direct Action is likely to achieve any emissions reductions at an exorbitant cost. One million solar roofs, for instance, will cost $133 for every tonne of carbon it abates.

If you stop to think about it for a minute, it’s obvious that Direct Action won’t work. It doesn’t introduce a proper market mechanism for carbon abatement. It doesn’t seek to cap Australia’s carbon emissions. The odds are against it, even before we examine the depth of the Coalition’s actual commitment to addressing climate change. No wonder Tony Abbott can’t find any economists or climate scientists prepared to support it.

The take-home message is simple. The Coalition’s plan is based on incomplete science, dubious economics and breath-taking political expediency. It will be hugely expensive. It won’t cut carbon emissions. It won’t even lead to lower taxes. And it will still introduce a shadow price for carbon.

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/2804206.html

July 21, 2011 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics |

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