Friday, February 25, 2011

Resource tax based upon assumptions that make the carbon tax pointless

Bill Leak 26 Feb
(Bill Leak's devastating cartoon from this morning's Weekend Australian.)

Terry McCrann points to the irreconcilable contradiction that lies at the heart of JuLiar Gillard's "national suicide pledge" to introduce two new taxes and drive up the cost of everything.

The proposed resources rent tax, (not in itself necessarily a bad idea), is based upon the assumption that the Chinese and Indian economies will continue to grow at their current breakneck speeds for the foreseeable future, and thus save the government's bottom line.

That is, they will continue to suck in the resources we mine, including coal, and continue to emit more and more carbon dioxide.

China is of course already now the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide and this is set only to grow in coming years.

Oh, but what's that I hear you say? China says it is embracing the wonderful fluffy future by setting the kind of renewable energy targets that will make dolphins sing and cuddly polar bears leap for joy, while we'll have the flying cars and floating cities we were promised all powered by nothing more than the sun's love?


Indeed, China for all its claimed commitment to aggressive world leadership in alternative energy, plans to get most of its electricity from coal-fired power. Not just today, but tomorrow and, indeed, the day after tomorrow.

Over the next 10 years, it plans to install net [yes, net!] new capacity of coal-fired power equal to 10 times our entire power generation sector.

Wind farms and solar panels are the window dressing hung on all this to make it look pretty. Nothing more.

And then there is India closely following behind.

Now, the upshot of all this is the fact that any reductions we make to the tiny 1.5% of global emissions that we produce are going to be completely dwarfed by the increases in global emissions made just by China and India, (let alone the rest of Asia and other parts of the world with growing economies).

(And if you honestly think the world is waiting with bated breath to see what Australia does, to then follow our lead, then you aren't a sucker, you are a fool.)

So, what's the point of setting out on a course of action whose only practical outcome will be to drive up the cost of everything we buy, either directly or indirectly, but which will have no environmental outcome at all?

Why is JuLiar all of a sudden a convert to taking action on climate change when, as Laurie Oakes observes, "just 10 months ago Gillard was demanding then prime minister Kevin Rudd shelve plans for an ETS. So strident was she on the issue that Rudd, according to a source close to him at the time, worried that she might actually “leave the show”?"

I suspect JuLiar doesn't really hold especially strong views on climate change, but she does know a political problem when she sees one, and she knows that one of Labor's biggest problems at the moment is the perception that it doesn't believe in anything or stand for anything.

Cue the return of the "greatest moral challenge of our time."

(And if you want a bit of a primer on just how differently the media treats one side of politics compared to the other, just go here and here and here.)

Finally, surely I'm not the only one worried that this bunch of clowns is "running" the country?


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