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“Direct action”: The coalition’s voluntary approach to environmental policy - part 2

The Coalition uses the phrase “Direct Action” to obscure the fact that they take a voluntary approach to environmental policy. The policy has been described as a farce and a non-optimal, do-nothing approach by some Coalition members and it appears to be designed as a handout for the worst polluters.

The Coalition’s policy is designed around a reverse auction system which polluters, farmers and foresters can choose to participate in.

For example, farmers could adopt ‘soil-carbon’ initiatives by changing their production processes. These projects are very questionable but in theory they increase carbon sequestration. Under the reverse auction scheme, those projects with the lowest cost per tonne of carbon sequestered would be allocated funds.

Similarly, polluters could choose to install new technology that reduces their emissions relative to a business-as-usual level and then seek funding under the reverse auction scheme.

However, it is difficult to see why firms would participate in the scheme. That is, as a voluntary approach to environmental policy, it has been poorly designed.

First, there is no punishment for continuing to emit at business-as-usual levels. Moreover, the definition of business-as-usual emissions allows for higher emissions when these result from economic growth or increases in a firm’s scale of operations.

In addition, should a firm manage to emit more than its business-as-usual level, the penalty for this will be set ‘in consultation with industry’. As we have seen from the mining super-profits tax, a tax set by industry is no tax at all.

Second, a good voluntary approach requires a credible threat to introduce harsh mandatory policies if the targets are not reached. This encourages firms to participate under the logic that if they don’t, something much worse will follow.

The coalition proposes no such thing and in fact by promising to repeal the carbon pricing scheme, as they continue to do, they move in quite the opposite direction. In short, there will be no ramifications if business fails to reach the target.

There are other problems too. For example, the proposal rewards past bad behaviour because the worst polluters can, if they choose, reduce emissions cheaply. Hence, they are more likely to receive funding under the reverse auction system. In contrast, those who have worked hard to reduce emissions in the past will find it more expensive to do so in the future.

The policy also creates investment uncertainty because it is narrowly targeted and transitional and would replace the existing carbon pricing scheme under which projects have been planned.

A final issue is the way it encourages wasteful lobbying. Each project must be approved by a government-appointed technical committee and, at least as the policy is currently written, industry must incur the project costs upfront and perhaps receive funding later. This encourages an aggressive lobbying effort to secure the funds.

All this suggests that it is extremely unlikely that many will participate in the scheme. Firms don’t have to, they are not punished for business as usual, and they may not receive any funding.

Indeed, in the similarly structured Howard government’s Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme, only 30% of the funds were ever paid out and there were failures with the projects originally approved.

Perhaps, however, there is one group of producers who will participate in the scheme – those firms with the greatest economic and political power in our economy and the worst polluters.

Large, high-polluting firms with market power could pass on to consumers any initial cost of their investment in emission reductions. If they then receive funding, as they are likely to do given their power and the relatively lower cost of their emission reductions, they will reap windfall gains.

Such an outcome suggests that the Coalition’s policy is simply a handout for big industry. Yet, they seem to be suggesting they have political courage by stating they will repeal the carbon price if elected. Instead, real political courage requires a government that will stand up to business and face the moral obligation to reduce Australia’s CO2 emissions.

Join the conversation

64 Comments sorted by

  1. Dr Graham Lovell

    logged in via Twitter

    So you don't like the Coalition's policy, but your complaints sounds ideological, rather than reasoned.

    As you said in Part 1: the Coalition's policy "is generally regarded to be morally unacceptable because it rewards industry for doing something they should be doing in the first place – that is, reducing the social impact arising from their pursuit of profits."

    Is making a profit now "morally unacceptable" unless it achieves some external good beyond the goods and services provided and the…

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    1. Blake Blake

      Professional

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Dear G Lovell,

      Trying to turn a statement by the author that its morally unacceptable for a Government to spend taxpayers money to reward polluters with free money for externalizing social and environmental impacts, into a stating that making a profit is morally unacceptable unless it achieves a social good per se requires 1 of two things:

      (a) immense stupidity;

      (b) intentional conflation borne of obsessive ideology.

      Which one was it for you?

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    2. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Blake Blake

      I read the tone of Neil Perry's statement as reflecting a disdain of the profit motive, and reflecting a belief that profits needed external justification beyond the goods and services produced and the employment created. If that was a misreading, it probably goes towards "immense stupidity". If so, I am sorry.

      However, Neil did not go so far as you, in your claim that the Coalition government plans to "reward polluters with free money for externalizing social and environmental impacts."

      I am bit lost on "externalizing social and environmental impacts." Is that putting a price on them? How does that work in terms of the Coalition's policy?

      I understood that the Coalition plans to provide an incentive to spend money to reduce the carbon emisisons arising from existing projects, and not to "reward polluters". Is this understanding also "immense stupidity"?

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    3. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      A fixed price on carbon, a good idea, which takes it away from the soi disant free market, which will and always has been rorted. But the difficulty, Graham, would be in setting the levels of emissions, would it not?

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    4. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to John Newton

      Thanks John for your two responses. In regard to the first, I must be dumb, since I had to look up "glissade". Having done that, I certainly can see the application of the fencing analogy to the forgoing discussion (on both sides).

      My point would be that in a capitalist economy (as an alternative to the failed model of a command economy) economics will be the primary driver of decision making, even if most of the players are also driven moral considerations. That is why we need appropriate economic…

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    5. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Dr Lovell

      You said:
      "I am not saying that the Coalition's policy will be as effective as a true carbon price: it won't be. However, we also have to take into account that Labor have effectively abandoned a real carbon price by linking their scheme to the disfunctional EU-ETS. Indeed we should always have stood alone on carbon pricing, rather than agreeing to pass our hard-earned to the Europeans."

      It is without doubt, one of the truest statements yet on this debate.

      To put your words in…

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    6. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Newton

      Gday Mr Newton, with all due respect I must point out that setting the level of emissions is just old-school Soviet-style top-down centralised planning.

      Cap-and-trade schemes are a curious blend of market-based pricing ("trade") and Soviet old-style centralised planning ("cap").

      Now, the "trade" part of the scheme is market-based, but is a market-based zero-sum game. [Nearly a zero-sum game, if we forget about the obscene fees of the trading houses]. That means that for every dollar someone…

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  2. Leigh Burrell

    Trophy hunter

    People on both sides of the debate must now concede that Gillard has poisoned and killed the idea of any form of carbon pricing in this country for a generation or longer. The deceitful introduction and shambolic, farcical implementation make it impossible for any party in their right mind to touch it, leaving only the naive and fanatical Greens foolish enough to chain themselves to the stinking, festering corpse.

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    1. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      Leigh, saying the policy is wrong because of its genesis is saying a child is bad because it is the result of a rape.

      The question is: is a price on carbon a god or bad policy, if so, how do we apply it?

      How we came to it is irrelevant to the question and to persist with that argument and that derision is to have stopped thinking.

      The argument based on hos we came about a price adds nothing to the debate other than political partisanship. That in itself is a banal pursuit.

      We, the governed, should care only for the policies being proffered not by whom. Our decisions should ONLY be based on those and our thoughts on them. Politics is for easily led fools among the governed

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    2. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Think you need a lesson in reading comprehension. I never said anything about it being right or wrong. I said it had been made politically untouchable by the Gillard government's disastrous handling. That is most certainly relevant in the context of this discussion of climate change policy and legislation! Can you seriously see a party sustaining enough support to legislate while chained to the now putrid corpse of carbon pricing? I certainly can't.

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      "deceitful introduction" - you mean, the contractual obligation.

      "shambolic, farcical implementation" - spot on; there could never be another series of "The Hollowmen" because they've already out-parodied any satirist.

      "must now concede that Gillard has poisoned and killed the idea of any form of carbon pricing in this country for a generation or longer." Err, no. The next IPCC Assessment (due only a few weeks after the next election) is all the excuse Tony Abbott needs to reverse his own blood oath.

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    4. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      OK Leigh, I take your point re what you said, however, my point still stands, You and others that keep harping on about "The Lie", are just playing politics with this issue.

      If you accept that global warming is an issue then you should demand that the coalition ditch this sham of a policy and act on maintaining a reasonable price on carbon.

      I suspect the coalition wishes it all to go away because they don't see an issue with the climate, as a party. I also suspect that those that harp on about…

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    5. Craig Somerton

      IT Professional

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      If incentives are such an effective way to gain compliance, why don't we reward drivers for good behaviour rather than hitting them with punitive punishment for non-compliance? Why do we send offenders to prison to atone for their crimes when we could offer them incentives instead?

      Because incentives do not work and they especially will not work with businesses who pollute. Allowing industries to spew forth pollution that affects all of society should be outlawed, or at the very least penalised.

      This was the aim of a Carbon price, to act as a deterrent to change these damaging behaviours. This is the purpose of government, to act for the benefit of the greater populace, against those who would do them harm.

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    6. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      David,

      Do you expect the IPCC to report that "Global Warming is far worse than we thought", a throw back to the heady days of the early 1990s when the globe happened to be warming, in step with the inevitable increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

      Even then, the strongest statement that the IPCC was prepared to make was: We BELIEVE that MOST of the warming during the second half of the Twentieth Century was VERY LIKELY due to increases in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide…

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    7. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      Not while old white men control putrid media empires the size of news corp. And the gullible believe the pig-swill dished out.

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    8. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Nicol

      John Nicol, I've searched through this page to try and find a remark of mine to which your mention of the IPCC might possibly refer. I can't find on, and can only assume your carers have forgotten to give you your pills again.

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    9. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      Thanks for those links Arthur. It is intersting to note the graphs shown on Skeptical science, all of which tell something about various scientific approaches to the problem of determining just what causes the climate to vary as it has always done. As I have often commented before, many people seem to have forgotten that;

      1. Since about 1850, the earth has been recovering from what might then have been referred to as "unprecedented cooling" in the form of the Little Ice Age. Why it would be…

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    10. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to John Nicol

      I agree that the imposition of a carbon price needs to be flexible, "and contained within the Australian context."

      The most effective schemes are the ones undertaken by nation-states for themselves, not ones that depend upon an international agreement.

      We can take action on carbon emissions, and it can be done without damaging our economy: http://australiancarbonprice.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/doha-failures-will-not-end-climate.html

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    11. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Nicol

      Crikey, Mr Nicol, that's a huge copy and dump job you've done: a simple web reference would have been preferable.

      Your point 1, "Since about 1850, the earth has been recovering from what might then have been referred to as "unprecedented cooling" in the form of the Little Ice Age" neglects the facts that
      1) temperature reconstructions of Holocene Pleistocene but for human intervention, the "Little Ice Age" would have been the onset of the next full-on glaciation; that is, but for humans the…

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    12. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      Thanks for those links Arthur. It is intersting to note the graphs shown on Skeptical science, all of which tell something about various scientific approaches to the problem of determining just what causes the climate to vary as it has always done. As I have often commented before, many people seem to have forgotten that;

      1. Since about 1850, the earth has been recovering from what might then have been referred to as "unprecedented cooling" in the form of the Little Ice Age. Why it would be…

      Read more
    13. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      Thanks for your response too Arthur. I apologise for the lentgh of my comment, but I do generally get a bit carried away on this stuff.

      However, I am not sure that I could have given a web reference to the material in my own comment and the quote from the IPCC AR5 required some hunting down and a download of the full chapter.

      I am not sure about the warming since the LIA being in response to human factors preventing the onset of a full Ice Age. The IPCC has, to my knowledge given any indication that it believes contributions to warming precede anything before about 1950. However, I would stand corrected of course if you could point me to the references where that suggestion has been made.

      Cheers, John

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    14. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Nicol

      Mr Nicol, I don't give a rat's about IPCC assessments.

      1) WG2 and WG3 are social "science", not physical, and hence at greater risk of being slanted toward whatever the currently preferred politico-economic fashion happens to be.

      2) Cut-off date for IPCC WG1 is generally 12 months ahead of release of assessment, so may not include recent finding of vital importance.

      3) After WG1 have finished drafting the assessment, it goes to governments for review and sign-off. That is, even WG1 assessments…

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  3. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    I remember attending a breakfast meeting of the Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shortly after the 2007 election, where those assembled were introduced to an elaborate and well established method of accounting for carbon in the economy, developed at much cost and effort, in the anticipation of the establishment of an ETS as the bipartisan policy of both the major parties.
    On a personal whim, dragging his party along with him by a single vote, Abbott destroyed that bipartisan approach and…

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    1. Georgina Byrne

      Farmer

      In reply to James Hill

      Here here, James. How many of us are not lemmings in this debate?...I suspect not many. Mind you lemmings have never actually been proven to jump off cliffs...as mere animals they behave more sensibly than we who regard ourselves as their superiors. Where did that rotting corpse rubbish come from any way? There'll be a heck of a lot more rotting corpses around the place in the coming decades if the incoming idiots undo the little we've achieved so far...real ones...drought and excess heat will see to that!

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to James Hill

      James, emission trading is the most obscene, ridiculous conjob ever perpetrated by the slime of the derivative trading markets on the rest of humanity.

      Instead, what we need is a consumption tax on fossil fuel, made revenue-neutral by thoughtful decreases and cuts to other taxes, introduced and then steadily increased until fossil fuel use has been priced out of the economy.

      I've had a long discussion around this point with Michael Wilbur-Ham (http://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-happening-to-antarcticas-ice-13684).

      I don't think we need worry too much about what Abbott says. The next IPCC WG1 Assessment is due out a few weeks after the Federal election. Abbott will pretty well reverse his position on climate change - as will Cardinal Pell, eventually.

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    3. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to David Arthur

      Yes david, there was a great problem in the ETS with local government somehow being denied any carbon credits for planting hundreds of thousands of trees for carbon sequestration.
      Still there is always the Voluntary Emmissions Trading that has gone on. unheralded for many years now, evading all those markete scams to which you draw our attention.

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    4. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to James Hill

      Thanks, James, for informing me of yet another deficiency of emission trading schemes, one of which I wasn't aware.

      Would I be correct in thinking that the voluntary trading schemes you mention are among people and organisations who appreciate co-operation and perhaps even altruism? If such people and organisations were in the majority, or even the ascendancy, we wouldn't be having this discussion because climate change would have already been sorted out.

      However, with the world as it is, the last pack of self-interested so-and-so's we want in charge of anything, let alone the future of the planet, is the finance sector. That's why progressively replacing direct taxes with a fossil fuel consumption tax until fossil fuel use has been superseded with alternatives is the simplest, fairest, most effective administrative mechanism available.

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    5. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to David Arthur

      Great Big New Taxes are politically difficult, David.
      And carbon sequestration?
      No hope for that either?

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    6. margaret m

      old lady

      In reply to James Hill

      Read each comment tried to digest but one factor disappointed that the effect of little or only cursory information about the successes of the hung parliament are ignored or forgotten.
      I will only mention two the river system the NBN to attempt to update neglected infrastructure by a very profitable business that once belong to the taxpayer. There are a number of difficult problems that have been addressed by this unusual government.
      Back to power deliver the market ideology if we believe what…

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    7. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to margaret m

      We will have a government led by Tony Abbot because Rupert Murdoch wants this. He controls 70% of our media. We have no credible understanding of the falsity of Tonys "direct action" because Rupert has directed his media empire to put Tony in the lodge. We will have to wait for the demise of this powerful man, before we see any will in this country to publish a fairer assessment of climate change. His offices in New York may be carbon neutral, but the track record of factual climate reporting in his papers here could be marked D. if considered markable. His papers publish bile and crap and partisan rubbish week after week to reflect the conservative world view wished for by Murdoch. Rupert doesn't like "government intervention" with his media empire, and is powerful enough to ensure nothing gets in his way here in Australia.
      We don't live in a democracy when we have a puppet master controlling politics and policy through his media empire on the scale that this man can and does.

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    8. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to David Arthur

      David,

      It would appear that you have some information about the likely content of the next IPCC report which the rest of us do not. Please share your knowledge with us.

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    9. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Georgina Byrne

      There is little chance of saving the GB Reef, or much biodiversity in the ocean, if we don't halt what we're doing. Denial, obfuscation, stupidity seem to be very present in the debate in Australia. But not as present in the rest of the world. Young Australians are designing some of the most clever solutions to climate change all over the world. Here the incoming government plans to get rid of the price on carbon and the Climate Commission. Not the clever country. Georgina, we can only loudly shout them down. I do so at every opportunity now, unless I think I can get through, then talking quietly is a better option. I see no choice. I think the "incoming idiots" will get in, so I'm planning to keep going.

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    10. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to margaret m

      Agree with your well argued positions, thanks, Margaret, for your efforts.

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    11. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to James Hill

      Great Big New Taxes are perfectly straighforward, provided they are accompanied by Great Big Tax Cuts.

      In 2009-10, Australian Commonwealth, State and Local revenue from taxes, levies, excises, rates &c was ~$333 trillion. In the same year, Australian fossil fuel use emitted 375 million tonnes of CO2.

      That is, Australia could have replaced its entire existing system of taxes, levies, excises, rates &c with a fossil fuel consumption tax (FFCT) of $889 per tonne CO2. Imagine that - no income…

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    12. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to David Arthur

      I remember spending some decades in the company of what others refer to as "Dumb Hippies",( all with above average levels of tertiary qualifications), who were quite intent upon reducing a dependence on fossil fuels, and it had bugger all to do with Global Warming.
      Yep, the world beat a path to their door.
      Just to indicate that the logic of your arguments, good as it is , is insufficient to overcome the politics of vested interests.
      Then there is the investigation of carbon remaining in the soils…

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    13. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Arthur

      Maybe it is a con job, David, but it is THE ONLY system that can work in our attempt to reduce emissions. Every other system bar just one other is doomed to fail. That other is of course the goodness in humanity’s heart… I’ll take bets and give odds if we ever rely on that!

      Taxing emissions and making tax cuts in other areas won’t work for the following reasons:

      1 – If we tax the consumers of goods and services that rely on fossils for their creation, the companies that create those items will…

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    14. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to James Hill

      Thanks for those remarks, James, although I'm not too sure what your focus is.

      Let's begin with your final question: would such a tax be worth the antagonism? The short answer is yes, and the full answer is set out in the lengthy discussion on this very point with Michael Wilbur-Ham to which I've already referred you (http://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-happening-to-antarcticas-ice-13684).

      Thanks for mentioning several of the processes collectively described as bio-sequestration…

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    15. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Thanks for that, Rubens.

      Point 1. You write that companies won't care how much FFCT we pay on their products. Well, final consumers only pay the FFCT on products that are imported, through the border adjustment tax. For goods that are produced locally, the FFCT is paid by the user of the fossil fuel, so if fossil fuel was used to transport milk from Victoria to a Qld supermarket, the trucking company which used the fuel pays the FFCT.
      For more on how a FFCT would function, I suggest you…

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    16. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Arthur

      Thank you for referring to some of my point, David.

      At the end of the day, either a manufacturer or an importer would have to pay a carbon tax, (I dislike anagrams, even if I get used to some - FFCT?). Their reflex action will be to pass on those costs initially. So in that way, we the saps at the end of the line will pay for it all.

      True enough, those with the wherewithal will see a commercial advantage in reducing their fossils use so that they can get a price point advantage over their…

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    17. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Thanks Ruben. You write that at the end of the day, either a manufacturer or an importer would pass on the carbon tax(regarding your dislike of acronyms, if I could configure my text editor to write "fossil fuel consumption tax" every time I type "FFCT", I'd do so), bear in mind that we the consumers will have the benefit of great big tax deductions (and benefit increases) with which to pay these increases.

      This also goes to the issue of motivation. So who is motivated to avert the potential…

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    18. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Arthur

      David

      I think we're on the same page except for the fact that I think the finance sector will not go away on this one.

      I would like nothing better than for All countries to do this voluntarily and without regard to the financial interests of what are nothing more than rent-seekers. Alas, I doubt that will be possible.

      That is my view and as much as it is not the ideal model for me, the goodness of humanity being my preferred model, I am happy to accept any system that will solve the problem we as humans have created for every living species on this planet, including ourselves.

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    19. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, I'm pleased we are on the same page. The finance sector may not go away, but if public education on climate science can put paid to Denialist misrepresentations, then it would be relatively straightforward to explain to the public how and why emission trading proponents are either members of the finance sector, or dependent on finance sector support for their advocacy; even the previously mentioned shock jocks would engage in that excoriation.

      That said, you continue to labour under a…

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    20. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Arthur

      David

      What you’re proposing is a tax on carbon and an import tax on goods manufactured overseas with the aid of fossil fuels depending on how much of that energy source they used. By itself, that is not a bad idea and I CAN see the benefits of using that revenue to assist the general population in coping with the inevitable price rises that would occur.

      That said; companies, on a global basis, would soon arrive at a balancing point.

      Firstly, if you were running a company that manufactured…

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    21. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Thanks Rubens for your response. However, I'm fairly certain that you've not yet grasped the details of consumption taxation.

      Where you refer to assisting "... the general population in coping with the inevitable price rises that would occur", I think you're envisaging the general population just as consumers, unable to help themselves or to take their own action.

      My view, on the other hand, is that it is the general population that should be most motivated to cease fossil fuel use by…

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    22. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Regarding your remarks about a vertically integrated economy, I'[ve long argued that Australia would do well to value-add its mineral exports before export; Australia is forgoing ~$112 billion per annum by exporting metallurgical coal and iron ore rather than converting it to iron and steel in Australia, and exporting that.

      Mind you, as and when the world ceases using fossil fuel, Australia is going to lose even the ~$25 billion metallurgical coal export trade, because the world is going to get…

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  4. Colin Creighton

    Chair, Climate adaptation, Marine Biodiversity and Fisheries

    Ah "The Conversation" - negativity rules!

    some quick thoughts -
    1 - Incentives do work - look at the solutions orientated incentives and how we are improving water quality for the GBR through Reef Rescue.

    2 - incentives also are far more likely to be successful with externalities to our economic system. this is because incentives help price public benefits with private benefits

    3 - win -wins are the go. Lets have Direct Action and the first priority is the 1% of the landscape that sequesters abt 39% of our carbon.....yes our coastal wetlands. Oh and that means more fish, more birds, better landscapes and lifestyles as well

    Thanks all

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    1. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Colin Creighton

      Yes Labor ought to steal Tony's figleaf of Direct Action and send all those deprived young Australians, trapped in subsurbia by poverty, out in the great outdoors (in the form of wetlands), Because, sure as hell, Tony isn't going to do it, Green Army, not going to happen, Malcolm says so.
      Steal their policy Labor, go on!
      And isn't Direct Action a Greens slogan/policy anyway?
      Now as the demand for work drops in the absence of the Green Army, wage levels will rise as employers need to bid higher for their help.
      Demand for heavilly mortgaged housing will drop too meaning housing prices will fall to more affordable levels.
      Oops, so that's why Howard dropped the green army proposal like a hot potato, hurt too many of those donors.
      Isn't politics so negative!

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    2. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Colin Creighton

      Didn't we have a decade of 'incentives'/corporate welfare under Howard, and constantly rising GHG pollution the whole time?

      Abbott will implement his pick-a-winner scheme only because it is a handy way to reward his mega-polluting patrons.

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    3. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Colin Creighton

      The negativity of this article on Abbott's Direct Action plans, and in many of the responses by readers are quite discouraging.

      Perhaps I am wrong again, but one suspects that if Labor had proposed Direct Action instead of locking itself into the ETS, Direct Action would have been enthusiastically supported by those decrying Abbott's proposal. It would appear that the problem is that Abbott has proposed it, not the proposition itself.

      The above article just dumps on Direct Action, looking…

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    4. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Dr Lovell

      For some of us, it matters not a jot who might have proposed "Direct Action". the problem is not who proposed it but what it relies on.

      When you drill past all the things that might be achieved by such a plan, wetlands, geothermal investments, etc, we are still left with the question of how to fund it.

      The coalition's proposal is for tax payers to do that. Such a system would rely on the government of the day, or an incoming opposition campaigning on the basis that we cannot afford…

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    5. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      There is nothing wrong with LNPs 'pick a winner' plan, its high time we got our crony capitalism out in the open.

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  5. Neville Mattick

    Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

    Thanks Neil, I thought the NLP would be along these lines; reading your report puts it further into perspective.

    A worrying future for Australia and its Global responsibility - methinks.

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  6. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    If Abbott is PM, you can put money on the total abandonment of any and all CO₂ mitigation actions. He will use the excuse that the economy is in crisis and "it is not the right time to be introducing ...<insert your favourite action here>". This will apply to any measure that takes courage and capital to implement. If only the Libs had a credible alternative PM with more than half a brain. Oh, wait: they have Turnbull, don't they? He is wasted on the Luddite coalition.

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  7. Robert Taylor

    logged in via Facebook

    Stop talking politics. This is a global issue, so why do we continue to argue it through the tiny prisms of our personal bias? If 90% of scientists agreed an earth killer asteroid was going to hit the earth in ten years we wouldn't be having these petty arguments. We need bipartisan action. We need a war cabinet. And we need our mass media to report on the science so people can make informed decisions. Instead we get politics, tax, blah blah blah. I fear it will be our epitaph.

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  8. David Hutchinson

    PhD student, climate science

    As someone who studies the future scenarios of climate change, I find it immensely depressing that the Coalition have such a nonchalant and disdainful attitude towards climate change. Their policy is rightly described in this article as a wasteful and pointless industry handout, dressed up as "Direct Action". The fact that they are sailing to electoral victory on the promise of being more HONEST than they other guys is even more depressing.

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