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Emissions trading schemes are fraught territory: is Rudd ready?

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has told Australia we’re shifting to an emissions trading scheme one year earlier than anticipated, with Treasurer Chris Bowen suggesting it will address “cost of living pressures…

Reducing emissions with a trading scheme rather than a tax can be risky business. Brian Yap

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has told Australia we’re shifting to an emissions trading scheme one year earlier than anticipated, with Treasurer Chris Bowen suggesting it will address “cost of living pressures”.

But does a carbon emission trading scheme constitute a substantial response to the problem of man-made global warming and rising energy bills? Or is it simply greenwashing? Rudd will have to learn from the mistakes of Europe’s ETS if he’s to show ours is a serious response to a serious problem

By proposing this change, Rudd is making “climate change an election issue again”. But the issue this time is tagged as easing living costs and heading off the loss of mining industry income, and it’s all to be done without threatening a return to surplus despite a probable cost to the budget of several billion dollars.

It’s all about economics. Christine Milne has a point when she asks, what has it to do with the climate?

Rudd is not the first political leader to put economics at the heart of climate change issues. The parallel rise of mainstream environmentalism and financial services - and the role of politicians and policy makers in translating the former into the latter - is a familiar pattern across the world. In the UK, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both used tools such as emissions trading to create a carbon budget and reform energy markets.

Friends of the Earth identifies carbon trading as “action by governments to create this new commodity – the right to emit carbon – and then to limit the availability of this right in order to create scarcity and therefore a market for it”. Carbon trading is the buying and selling not of carbon, but of permits to emit carbon dioxide, under licence from nations or international institutions.

Green markets were seen by many as additional taxes that increased costs of living. Politicians have been accused of “grandfathering”; using an ETS to produce windfall profits for firms by selling a large volume of their allocated permits.

Rudd will need to avoid similar accusations. He says he wants to bring the ETS forward with a floating price of between $6 and $10 per tonne to “ease cost of living pressure for families“, but the ETS may not be the best way to do this.

Carbon emissions trading is particularly prone to dubious transactions. In Europe, oil companies have profited by selling on their surplus allocations to under-allocated hospitals and universities. Steel manufacturer Corus obtained emissions permits for development at their plant in the North of England, then shelved their plans and sold on the unused permits for an estimated profit of £250 million.

There has been tax fraud in spot trading of allocations followed by “cyber-thieves” hacking into spot trading, prompting the (temporary) suspensions of the market. This “sparked panic and forced a halt into trading in numerous countries”.

In Europe the third phase of ETS comes into effect in 2013. Organisations with remaining permits will “carry over 1.8 billion permits…obviating the need to buy any new credits before 2016”, thus making a mockery of the system. Other writers have suggested ways Australia’s ETS could overcome this problem, but it remains to be seen whether the Prime Minister is up to the challenge.

Rudd’s decision to move from a fixed price earlier than the scheduled date of July 2015 would require setting emissions caps. As Tony Wood showed in an earlier article for The Conversation, this too is both politically difficult and hard work.

Rudd’s preference to solve climate change is diplomatic, trading one country’s concern against another’s in a process of lengthy negotiation. But “international cooperation” can often turn out to mean a protracted process in which each nation’s toxicity – the problems it manufactures for others – is offset against the geo-political problems which they, too, have produced while pursuing their own self-interest.

Rudd needs to be careful with the quick shift to an ETS. With the Greens still likely to hold the balance of power in the Senate, putting climate change on the election agenda opens him up to accusations of greenwashing, grandfathering and ignoring renewable energy. Rudd claims the move to fast track to ETS is revenue neutral – but we’ve heard that before.

Like Thatcher, Cameron, Brown and Blair, Rudd is using climate change as a political tool to get one over on the opposition while still keeping big business sweet. There are risks for consumers, international relations and - of course - the atmosphere. As details of the new scheme emerge, we’ll better be able to judge how carefully those risks have been considered.

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68 Comments sorted by

  1. John Newlands

    tree changer

    Maxine my guess is we're distantly related. This is a major step backwards aping the European trading scheme, a bit like copying US health care. Carbon pricing has to be done properly or don't bother. The bugbears of the EU ETS appear to be free permits, lavish use of carbon credits which may be illusory and a weak cap reduction.

    It follows that all in-scope emitters (>25 ktpa CO2e) should have to buy permits at auction. If they don't then authorities shut them down. Carbon credits must meet tough criteria that require them to be globally additional. Thus carbon traders won't have much to play with, The industry special cases like smelters should get help via carbon tariffs, not free permits. The annual cap reduction should be non-trivial, say 1-2% per year.

    I would also make nuclear power legal in Australia. If we don't do these things I agree the whole exercise is a greenwash.

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  2. Leigh Burrell

    Trophy hunter

    Global trading scheme = global emissions cap = TOTALITARIAN WORLD GOVERNMENT.

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    1. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      Well said Leigh...this is very likely the long term plan...it gradually leading to a global tax on energy to pay for a global govt...if only they might ever be transparent, honest & accountable....

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    2. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      Calling it, the "Law of Denial" in operation:

      http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/wtds-law-in-the-climate-debate-the-probability-of-conspiracy-theories-being-invoked-is-1/

      "In any online conversation related to climate change the probability of conspiracy theories, political/religious orthodoxy and totalitarian regimes being invoked is 1."

      I have to say, this is proving the right environment to test my hypothesis that sections of the climate denial movement are conspiracy theorists.

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    3. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Billy Field

      Second call, another instance of "Law of Denial"

      "In any online conversation related to climate change the probability of conspiracy theories, political/religious orthodoxy and totalitarian regimes being invoked is 1."

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Billy Field

      Billy (and Leigh) the majority of folk who converse here are able to distinguish between material published in Nexus magazine and material published in Nature magazine. It has something to do with growing up and ceasing to indulge paranoid fantasies that have no real basis in evidence.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      Grant, would you care to parse the difference between the two instances for the great unwashed who do not posses a PhD in physics, or are you content to contribute merely another cryptic bitch?

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    6. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Mr MacNeill, Mr Marriott's first instance was -
      "In any online conversation related to climate change the probability of conspiracy theories, political/religious orthodoxy and totalitarian regimes being invoked is 1."
      And the second was -
      "In any online conversation related to climate change the probability of conspiracy theories, political/religious orthodoxy and totalitarian regimes being invoked is 1."
      My point, which clearly sped straight over your head, was that there is no difference. But perhaps you spotted one. Care to parse it for me?
      And me bitch? Never! I come here purely for light on-line entertainment.
      BTW, isn't it great news about the carbon tax. Or lack of one thereof.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      Doctor Burfield, I'm not sure why you think the lack of a carbon tax is a good thing, but unfortunately whether we have one, or emissions trading scheme is immaterial. We are not cutting our emissions enough at all. Australias action is pathetic, and climate narcissists like yourself and rambo Leigh are the sort of people who will be held responsible for a 4-6 degree temperature rise in 80 years time, despite the fact that you will be dead.

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    8. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice Kelly, the Labor and Coalition now both said they will scrap the carbon tax. They represent about 90% of the voting public. An on-line poll on ninemsn yesterday on whether the carbon tax should be scrapped came out at 87.5% "yes" out of 100,805 votes cast. So I'm not Robinson Crusoe. And Mr Marriott will confirm that on-line polls have great utility in climate science understanding.
      I'm not sure where you get the 4-6 degree rise from. The latest peer reviewed estimates for TCR and ECS are 1.3 and 2 degrees respectively. Perhaps someone pointed out these peer reviewed results to the Prime Minister and he decided that climate change wasn't "the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time" after all.
      Despite being incorrect on TCR and ECS, you are correct on at least one thing. I will have well and truly fallen off the perch in 80 years time.

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    9. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      It didn't speed straight over my head, Grant, it sank in a sad littl epuddle at my feet - where all the pointless wastes of time go.

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    10. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      C'mon Mr MacNeill, lighten up a bit. I can understand your disappointment knowing that whoever wins the election, there will be no carbon tax. In fact, some of my Green colleagues are incandescent with rage. Which is a sure sign the Prime Minister knows he's backing a winner.
      So whither the period of carbon taxing at $23 per tonne to address "the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time"? Just a little political distraction apparently.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2012/12/10/3650095.htm
      Doctor Burfield, sneering at me, if politely is mistaken. I have no real interest in the Australian political game playing, or your take on it. It is is what it is and it's not enough. We are not progressing well towards transitioning towards a clean economy, so a temperature rise of 4-6 degrees is entirely feasible. All the bogus arguments about business being adversely affected are petulant narcism.

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    12. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice Kelly, I have no great interest in politics or business either. I won't be voting in the upcoming election and haven't voted since 1973 because I believe that enforced compulsory voting in a democracy is an oxymoron. As to a temperature increase or decrease, anything is feasible. It's just that the peer reviewed scientific literature places your 4 to 6 degree figures well to the right of the climate sensitivity probability distribution function. Therefore highly unlikely.
      http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n6/pdf/ngeo1836.pdf

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      Grant, these are not my figures, organisations like the world bank are hardly radical alarmists, the science behind the conference held by the world bank is entirely feasible. Climate projections predicted for the last 30 years have continually been proven to be correct at the worse end of the scale. Unfortunately politics is short term, and the politicisation of climate change in this country has created tribal game playing which is not based on caring for the science at all . But also considering the amount of coal being dug up and burned world wide, (increasingly), think that your 1.3-2 degree increases are optimistic.

      http://climatechange.worldbank.org/sites/default/files/Turn_Down_the_heat_Why_a_4_degree_centrigrade_warmer_world_must_be_avoided.pdf

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    14. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      So you're not disappointed then about the Prime Minister's decision. I'm delighted. Far better to have no carbon tax of $23 per tonne for a period followed by a carbon tax of $6 per tonne by linking in to the European ETS (providing that doesn't go any further tango uniform). An ETS price of $6 per tonne should set world temperatures plummeting.
      http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21576388-failure-reform-europes-carbon-market-will-reverberate-round-world-ets
      Maybe, a $6 bargain basement price will allow us to build some new coal fired power stations like the Germans are doing. Maybe even some gas and <gasp> nuclear...
      http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/new-coal-fired-plants-could-be-key-to-german-energy-revolution-a-854335.html
      http://www.engineerlive.com/content/21600
      http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/japan-turns-back-to-coalfired-power-plants-20130425-2ihb0.html

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      The rights of separate countries are not in question, except that in the debate about a shared responsibility to take unified action to cease carbon pollution, (which is what all countries have to do), countries do not have the right to continue to pollute the planet, Leigh. I just don't see how you can equate a shared responsibility, with totalitarian world government.

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    16. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      You're most of the way there when you suggest that "countries do not have the right to continue to pollute the planet".

      Who would be policing compliance with this "shared responsibility"?

      Answer: A SUPRANATIONAL ENTITY WITH COERCIVE POWERS OVER ALL NATIONS, IE WORLD GOVERNMENT.

      How could they police a global emissions cap and punish non-compliance?

      Answer: UNPRECEDENTED AND UNLIMITED POWERS OF SURVEILLANCE AND PROHIBITION, IE TOTALITARIANISM.

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    17. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      "The latest peer reviewed estimates for TCR and ECS are 1.3 and 2 degrees respectively."

      Looks like Grant doesn't know what uncertainty is. What a clown.

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    18. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Uncertainty? Confidence intervals are a little more scientific so let's stick with them shall we. From the paper the 5-95% CIs for the TCR are 0.9 to 2.0°C and for the ECS is 1.2 to 3.9 °C. The PDFs are right skewed so the modes (most likely estimates) lie to the left of the centre of these CIs.
      The most likely estimates are, as I said, a TCR of 1.3°C and an ECS of 2.0°C.
      So your problem is...?

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    19. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      So why didn't you mention CIs (which are one way of expressing uncertainty) in the first place?

      ECS less than 1.7 °C is already ruled out by other empirical observations. Combining empirical observations leads to a CI of 1.7 to 3.9 °C. Interestingly, Annan's 2006 70% CI upper bound was 3.9 °C.

      Also, I don't think most likely estimates are generally very useful since the value of the pdf doesn't change much over a broad range.

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    20. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "Also, I don't think most likely estimates are generally very useful ". What do you suggest they should have used in their peer reviewed paper then? The most unlikely estimates perhaps.
      "the value of the pdf doesn't change much over a broad range"
      Really. It rather depends on what the range is doesn't it. Eyeballing box and whisker plots on the PDFs have 5% of the data from 2.5°C to infinity°C for TCR. so not much change there. For ECS 5% of the data is between 5°C and infinity°C. So not much change there either because in both cases we are out in the thin right tail of the PDF. These will include the most unlikely values mentioned above.
      However for ECS, 66% of the data are from 1.5 to 3.0°C and for TCR 0.9 to 1.9°C. Big changes in PDF for small changes in temperature. Both ranges include the most likely values.

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    21. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      Alice is correct and Burfield is wrong.

      Alice wrote about "4-6 degree temperature rise in 80 years time"

      Burfield responded "I'm not sure where you get the 4-6 degree rise from. The latest peer reviewed estimates for TCR and ECS are 1.3 and 2 degrees respectively."

      He is confusing climate sensitivity (temp rise for a doubling of GHG) with projected temperatures at the end of this century.

      They are not the same.

      As Myles Allen, one of the authors of the Otto et. al. study explains…

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    22. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      Nup, mind reading function still not working thee Grant, maybe you should try operating from the other end of the pipe?

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    23. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      "What do you suggest they should have used in their peer reviewed paper then?"

      They didn't "use" it. They stated it.

      ""the value of the pdf doesn't change much over a broad range"
      Really."

      Perhaps you didn't realise what I was talking about. The value of the pdf over a broad range around the maximum likelihood point does not change much.

      In any case, a 95% CI for ECS of 1.7 to 3.9 °C is hardly anything to be complacent about. One wonders why you keep ignoring that issue.

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  3. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Thanks for this article, Dr Newlands; at last, an article appears on 'The Conversation' that sets out some of the deficiencies of emission trading schemes.

    What's often neglected is that NO emission reductions are achieved under emission trading; ALL the emission reductions are achieved by the setting of an aggregate emissions cap, ie old-school Soviet-style centralised planning.

    The optimal mechanism to achieve emissions reductions remains the setting of a consumption tax on all fossil fuel use, and then steadily increasing the rate of that consumption tax until the required emissions reductions are achieved.

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    1. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to David Arthur

      Well said.

      Rudd and Abbott can both shove this scam back where they emitt carbon dioxide from......their mouths.

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    2. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Arthur

      Thankyou David, I think this is right.....but also, if they do this, ALL the money ought go into "public equity in clean energy"...not vested interests pockets & fat cats wages & suppuration.....or Labor's oft profligate spending!!

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Billy Field

      Thanks Mr Field. I agree that the revenue from any new tax should be carefully allocated. My own views tends toward favouring cuts to other existing taxes, so as to not drain excess liquidity from the "productive" economy.

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  4. Berthold Klein

    logged in via Facebook

    It's so nice to see that the elate of Australia have not learned a Blo*dy thing about science.
    Here is a quote from part of an article by a former author of the IPCC reports:
    Dr. Vincent Gray on historical carbon dioxide levels

    Posted on June 4, 2013 by Anthony Watts

    NZCLIMATE TRUTH NEWSLETTER NO 312 JUNE 4th 2013

    CARBON DIOXIDE

    There are two gases in the earth’s atmosphere without which living organisms could not exist.

    Oxygen is the most abundant, 21% by volume, but without…

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    1. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      You seem to have entirely missed the point. Emissions trading is not about science (or religion). It's about economics, policy, and politics (both domestic and international).

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      Mr Klein, as usual you contribute a load of claptrap to discussions.

      Earth's climate is a complex interplay between disposition of continents, ocean currents, atmospheric composition and mass (do you really believe that the asteroid collision at the K-T boundary didn't cause a huge amount of atmosphere to be lost?), albedo (sunlight-reflecting clouds and icecaps).

      If you want your remarks that focus exclusively on the role of atmospheric CO2 to be taken credibly in this discussion, please restrict your paleoclimatological purview to the periods for which the other factors I set out have not greatly varied ie to the Miocene and thereafter.

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    3. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      Mike,

      You might want to tighten the corners on your aluminium foil deflection beanie.

      Or, tell the vpotus he is delusional:

      April 5 2013
      Biden: The 'affirmative task' before us is to 'create a new world order'

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1AMYHHAXhI

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Yes, Mark, but the words 'new', 'world' and 'order' exist within the English language and may be used by anyone. just because paranoid conspiracy theorists use the three words as code for something sinister does not prove that, if others use those same common words, they automatically mean what you mean.

      It's called reasoning.

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    5. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix,

      What is this "something sinister" code you claim to know paranoid conspiracy theorists use?

      Sounds like a conspiracy theory to me.

      Next you'll be spouting conspiracy theories about big tobacco & big oil like Mike above!

      But, you are correct. Biden could have used words like 'purple', 'dishwasher' & 'monkey'.

      Some conspiracy theorist would see a sinister code in that and claim an agenda 21 or something.

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    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      That's right Mark, the phrase 'new world order' has no underyones or connotations...

      Unless you actually have something relevant or useful to contribute?

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    7. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Thanks Mark, but the reference to "slayintheskydragoon.c*m"

      ...is a notorious crank website.

      I think my tin foil hat detector is spot on.

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    8. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Peter Lang

      As a non scientist I have tried to understand the logic about carbon trading. For the life of me I cannot understand that giving polluters the opportunity to sell their rights to pollute is rational, or moral.
      I understand that bit about increasing scarcity by limiting availability. (That scam is worked all the time with a whole lot of products and other scenarios. But we all know that scarcity does not increase the actual cost of providing the newly "scarce" products or services.Its just an excuse…

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    9. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to lavinia kay moore

      >""As a non scientist I have tried to understand the logic about carbon trading. For the life of me I cannot understand that giving polluters the opportunity to sell their rights to pollute is rational, or moral."

      You are correct. Neither carbon trading nor carbon tax nor any other government intervention to rais the cost of energy is ggod for human ity and pricing carbon will make no difference to the environment. These schemes will not survive. This explains why: http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2013/07/no-gain-and-lots-of-pain-with-the-ets

      There is a better policy for decarbonising the global economy:

      "Decarbonising the global economy requires an economically rational approach"
      http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313509

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    1. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Explains why academia and scientists ignore Quadrant and why said publication remains the choice of a noisy minority.

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  5. Dr Gideon Polya

    logged in via Twitter

    This cowardly, spin-driven, election-driven decision by the Rudd Government underscores the reality that Labor (like the Coalition) has no intention of "tackling climate change". Sensible, science-informed people concerned about intergenerational justice and the next and further generations will vote 1 Green. For a detailed analysis of this false Labor mantra scroll down to "tackling climate change" in the must-read website "ABC Fact-checking Unit - incorrect reportage by the ABC (Australia's BBC…

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  6. John Clark

    Manager

    Maxine, PM Rudd is not making economics central, but rather himself. All his proposals have the one aim of destabilising the Coalition in order that he will be elected. I doubt he has given the issues themselves any thought. The extent to which the electorate has responded to his presidential dreams is quite astounding.

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Clark

      Fair enough comment, Mr Clark, Mr Rudd is indeed using personality politics. As far as the Lab wing of the LibLab Party are concerned, Mr Rudd's ploy is an excellent response to the Lib wing.

      By neutralising the only advantage the Lib wing had (punters preferred Abbott to Gillard), the election returns to being fought on policy grounds. Don't get me wrong, my view is that there's a hell of a lot wrong with the Lab wing's policies - but at least they've got some policies, whereas all the Lib wing has is jerking knees.

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  7. Billy Field

    logged in via Facebook

    Good article thankyou. ETS IS AN OBVIOUS MONSTER RORT...Billions of public & private dollars going to who, where & what for?...Impossible for any public probity. ABC is SO dishonest with lies of omission it is CRIME. .Eg today:-...1. Zimmerman persued Taryvon down the street after being told by 911 & then later killed him ..ABC & MSM never mentioned? 2. "Business groups welcomed the move to bring forward the ETS"....

    Below a recent TC article & my response:-

    https://theconversation.com/switching-carbon-from-fixed-price-to-ets-should-rudd-do-it-15621

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    1. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Billy Field

      Error;- Re media "omissions of choice"
      Eg today:-...1. Zimmerman persued 17yo Trayvon down the street FOR NO GOOD REASON and after being told during his 911 Emergency not to do so... and then he later killed him with a handgun. ...He also WAS not charged for weeks until a pubic outcry...

      So don't believe MSM on ETS...it's about who gets the money in the future.....and it''s just another BIG cost which will contract/wreck business & jobs.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      But, Michael, Billy wrote lots of words! Are you suggesting that there's a difference between lots of words and evidence?

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    3. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Gosh darn it you're right!

      Wall of text wins every time.

      Evidence, smeev-a-dence. We don't need now stinkin' evidence.

      (/wink)

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    4. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      ETS is a tricky money scheme ....& how can you say it's good until you know the details? ....nothing to do with global environment..thats the excuse... & it's about who gets the money & who pays... a "climate derivatives" scheme...It is subjective & hugely EXPENSIVE to administer & open for corruption & missmanagement big time. It is so complex it's ludicrous! ...You need further evidence?

      I say, same as everything, tax or outlaw the bad (IF GENUINE PROOF) ....& incentives for the good...
      Same as always a carrot & stick....simple & effective & rort proof....This ETS is a classic "Thimble & pea" financial game ..for aspiring global profiteers....
      If media RELENTLESSLY tells everyone lies they believe it...same as Iraq WMD..... ...
      PS Stop playing the man not the ball....it reflects on you...

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  8. Byron Smith
    Byron Smith is a Friend of The Conversation.

    PhD candidate in Christian Ethics at University of Edinburgh

    "There are risks for consumers, international relations and – of course – the atmosphere."
    And by a risk to the atmosphere, what we are really talking about is a risk to life on earth as we currently know it. The atmosphere isn't going anywhere. It's the stability of the biosphere that's in real danger.

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    1. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Byron Smith

      The Earth abides.

      The question is can our civilisation?

      The Earth may reach a new equilibrium, and settle into a new normal. But what will that be?

      There are many potential futures, where the average global temperatures may range 2-6c and higher. The differences between these possible states (dependent on GHG emission peak and decline by 2050) are profound.

      Within that range life for humanity and the resilience of our social, political and food/energy/transport infrastructure will…

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    2. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      This not a 'reply', it is a suggestion.
      As the idea of trading carbon credits is the child of Wall Street stock traders and will be a source of income to them, it should be viewed with suspicion.
      A better idea is to forget about trading and use an increasing levy system to indicate to polluters that there is a need to change our 19 th century practices.
      Levy each polluter at the rate of $1.00 per tonne for the first five years; no compensation, no trading, no duck-shoving. After five years the…

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    3. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Exactly correct Michael ....just very gradually ramp up the tax on the bad...

      If they were serious about the environment we wouldn't be doing a lot of things we do.. like ignore population explosion & burning fuel shipping food 15k kilometres that we produce right here....etc

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    4. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      ..and what about another 3 billion people breeding like rabbits & competing for, & consuming, fuels & energy like us pretty soon...The ETS is a ridiculous scheme.......we need real Govt programs & INCENTIVES & "domestic Govt produced capital" for change that is good...eg fast light commuter rail on major routes (they are only short routes for Christs sake..think of import fuels saved if rail faster than driving)...reducing waste...& going alt. energy & food consumption eg super LED lighting...domestic food, water micro power production... domestic grid feeds..opportunities are endless...ETS is a ridiculous scheme wont do ANY of this...... the money will be rorted!!

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    5. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Hay

      A scheme dreamed up by Wall Street stock traders? Not quite so nefarious. Market schemes have been used before to address environment issues many times before (including the reduction of CFCs in the US).

      However, I'm not going to defend emissions trading schemes as the be-all-and-end-all of mitigation. I'll concede they have their issues (some serious), all of which informed commentators have pointed out. But let's have a real debate about their effectiveness, not sprinkled with wild conspiracy…

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  9. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    >"Certainly Not!
    >Philosophy: Good science requires cultivating doubt and finding pleasure in mystery."
    http://nautil.us/issue/2/uncertainty/certainly-not

    This article is excellent. It demonstrates how poles apart are science and policy development.

    Science continues asking questions indefinitely. There is no project. There are no constraints such as: requirements, time limits, or budget.

    Policy, on the other hand, has to be practicable. It has to achieve a result. Policy development has to develop and implement a policy that will, hopefully, survive until it achieves the benefits it was claimed it would achieve.

    “Did you ask any good questions today?”

    OK. I have some questions:

    1. What are the quantifiable, measurable benefits of the Australian ETS?

    2. How much difference will the Australian ETS make to the climate?

    3. How much difference will the Australian ETS make to sea level?

    4. What is the probability that the world will implement a global ETS?

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  10. John Robert Brooker

    Retired

    Good article.

    I do not give a damn about the politics. I have grandchildren and I am basically scientifically literate.

    Our atmosphere is warming and the evidence is irrefutable that this warming has been caused by increasing CO2 levels consequent mostly from industrial activity that burns carbon.

    The effect of this trend in increasingly extreme weather events, higher sea levels and melting ice caps is clear.

    Carbon taxes or levies are the only effective way of forcing industry to change its CO2 producing habits. Would anyone trust the markets to deliver anything not in its own self interest, after its disgraceful conduct leading to the GFC?

    I can only hope that the Greens still hold power in the Senate post election, so that they cant stop this Rudd/Abbot madness.

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    1. Arthur James Egleton Robey

      Industrial Electrician

      In reply to Billy Field

      Evidence is reserved for the sighted.
      If the Lillipudlians think that their electricity bill is onerous, wait till they get their insurance bill.

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