The health effects of radiation in the wake of Japan’s disaster are still unclear - see here or here for more information. But, closer to home, it is a good time to look at the health impacts of carbon, with Professor Ross Garnaut set to release his next carbon pricing update today at the National Press Club. David Shearman says the health of millions of people is affected by coal. UPDATE: Professor Garnaut told the National Press Club taxpayers will be better off under a carbon pricing scheme.
Coal has powered a welcome evolution of society, but as the ill-effects of burning coal have become increasingly apparent, so too it seems, has the temptation to neglect the real costs including the ill health conferred on millions.
This ill-health has remained an externality of coal combustion. Like the tobacco companies, Big Coal has not paid restitution for the human morbidity and mortality. Surely this must be re-examined when compensation for the forthcoming carbon tax is claimed by an industry which already receives government subsidies?
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Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced today that she intends to introduce a fixed cost for carbon emissions by July 1 2012, with the introduction of a cap and trade emissions trading scheme within three to five years after that.
We’ve all known it was coming, but for a carbon price to move out of the abstract and back into the real world is a massive jolt to the political system. This announcement is a big one: for households, for business, for the environment and for Julia Gillard’s future as Prime Minister.
As my colleague Samantha Maiden at the Sunday Telegraph tweeted this afternoon: “My considered if profane opinion on carbon price: Gillard is best when in combat mode. She’s just called on biggest s***tfight of her career.” True dat.
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The drama of the 2010 federal election came to an end as the independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor threw their support behind Labor. This has an immediate impact on Australian climate policy.
A Gillard minority government promises a new cross-party Climate Change Committee to spearhead carbon-pricing legislation in the next term of government. This agenda will face stiff opposition, but with the right design, it can help move Australia towards a low-carbon economy.
Both Labor and the Greens support the notion of carbon pricing but have not yet agreed on the specific mechanism for doing so. (Labor attempted to pass an emissions-trading bill in its last term, however the Senate twice rejected the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The Coalition opposed the CPRS because it was too onerous, and Greens because it was too weak. As a stopgap measure, the Greens proposed an ‘interim carbon price’ of $20 per tonne for two years, but Rudd and Gillard dismissed the idea.)
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The Rudd Government, recognising that their Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is a lemon, has followed the same strategy as a car manufacturer and rebadged the product under the label of a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).
They have not, however, improved the product nor does their ETS comply with its new label. The ETS remains a process whereby the Government sells or gifts the right to continue polluting the atmosphere to those industries most notorious for so doing. Rudd further expects to gain $11bn of Tax Revenue from the process.
He sells this proposal under the delusion that there will be a market based response from those so taxed, which will cause them to reduce their emissions.
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