Rudd acting like a used car salesman over ETS
The most baffling aspect to the entire debate surrounding the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is how so many who agree on a problem can be so divided about the best solution.
With the exception of a few mavericks in the Nationals and the Liberals and one lone Senator from Family First, parliament accepts that the scientific debate is over.
Anthropogenic climate change presents us with the most pressing and complex policy problem humankind has faced. Ever. And personally, I can’t help wondering what planet climate change denialists are living on.
So how did we get to a point where the major parties can’t even talk to each other about this issue, when so much is at stake? To understand how we became so lost, we need to go back to where we first started losing our way.
I believe the rot set in with the Government’s initial white paper on the CPRS. In the old days, white papers used to contain vigorous analysis of a variety of alternatives. The Government’s white paper had none of this.
In the Government’s view there was only one way. Its way. Other schemes weren’t analysed or debated. At best they were given a cursory dismissal.
The Government was acting like a used car salesman who only lets you test drive one car and then insists on you buying it.
And the Government’s aversion to alternatives continues to this day.
That is why the coalition and I commissioned leading economists at Frontier Economics to tests the Government’s model and suggest alternative approaches.
Today we released Frontier’s findings which show that a hybrid CPRS/intensity model can be at least twice as green and more than forty percent cheaper.
The scheme locks in unconditional carbon emission cuts of 10% on 2000 levels, with the scope to achieve even deeper cuts, especially if international agreement is reached, compared with the Government’s proposed 5% cuts.
The modelling also achieves a $49 billion dollar saving to Gross Domestic Product over 20 years and greater job growth especially in regional areas, compared with the Government’s scheme.
The Frontier scheme also achieves low rises in retail electricity prices of 5% compared to the 40-50% expected under the Government’s plan.
The agricultural sector is protected through exclusion to bring it in line with American and European schemes, and there is also opportunity for rural producers to make off-farm income through abatement.
Put simply, the scheme is greener, cheaper and smarter.
But incredibly, it is not up for discussion as far as the Government is concerned.
I noted the Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet was able to criticize the Frontier modelling this morning without actually having seen it.
Talk about insight!
Climate Change Minister Penny Wong was equally confusing when she equated the plan with one proposed in Canada, when even a cursory reading of the modelling would show it is not a replica of the Canadian scheme at all.
I would say to Greg and Penny, by all means, ‘go your hardest’, but perhaps you could at least read the modelling you are deriding. After all, an unwillingness to look alternate models is what got us into this mess in the first place.
I was also concerned about the initial response from the Greens. Now we should recognise that we all owe a lot to the Greens.
The fact that we are even thinking about the politics of environmental issues is a testament to the decades of work done by the Greens.
But it is not simply enough to highlight problems. We need to find real world solutions to problems facing the planet.
The Greens compared the Government and Coalition, and I guess by extension me, to dinosaurs because of our reluctance to wipe out coal generators with some kind of punitive plan.
Now I know why this is a popular view among some sections of the community.
But when you think through the consequences of this position, it’s hard to see how you could back it. If we actually did that in the real world, you can forget about dinosaurs and start thinking about cavemen.
Just like cavemen we’ll all be left stuck freezing in the dark.
I want to see an effective, practical plan to come out of this. And part of that plan must involve being able to flick a switch and have the light actually come on. No-one wants to be left in the dark.
If ever there was an issue where we needed all sides of politics to find the common ground, this is it. And economically if we don’t manage to reach a consensus, we will all pay.
If the economy is going to grow and grow green, it will need significant amounts of investment in new technologies.
But this level of investment will only be made in a stable economic environment.
If big business thinks a CPRS will change the minute the government changes, they are not going to commit the massive funds needed to transform the economy.
The economy will only grow green from firm soil. The Australian public expects parliament to find the best way forward. I believe the Frontier modelling shows there are better alternatives to the Government’s proposed scheme.
Now if the government disagrees, let’s talk about that. But let’s not talk through the media, or across the chamber, where saving face seems more important that saving the planet.
Lets get around a table like we should have months ago, and acknowledge we all agree on the destination, we just need to find the best route.
Because ultimately, we have to get this right. The world is literally counting on us.
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