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Analysis and Comment (153)

Julia Gillard’s My Story is about defending her legacy, but she is not blind to the faults of the Labor Party nor to her own mistakes. AAP/Dean Lewins

Book review: Gillard’s My Story, a defence of her prime ministership

Julia Gillard’s autobiography, My Story, presents a comprehensive defence of her prime ministership. Gillard dives straight into the heart of her story, beginning on the day she was sworn in as prime minister…
Chinese President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will both skip the UN climate talks, but that doesn’t mean the world’s biggest emitters aren’t acting. EPA/AAP

Leaders skip UN talks as China looks to go it alone on carbon

There are a few notable absentees among the more than 120 world leaders gathered in New York for today’s United Nations Climate Summit. Perhaps most notable of all is the head of the world’s highest-emitting…
Tony Abbott may have planted a few trees, but he’s also sought to bury many of Australia’s environmental safeguards. Britta Campion/AAPImage

Abbott’s environment agenda is even harsher than he promised

Before the 2013 election, Tony Abbott gave us fair warning that he would turn the clock back on the environment. As promised, his government has devoted itself to short-term economics and the sort of hardline…
Forestry is credited under New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme. World Resources Institute/Flickr

Carbon pricing is still the best way to cut emissions, if we get it right

The Coalition government has recently axed Australia’s carbon “tax”, leaving us with no carbon price. Alternatives include the government’s “Direct Action” plan, or Clive Palmer’s proposed emissions trading…
A tourist train from Sheringham to Holt steams past an offshore wind farm, one of many that have sprung up along the UK coast. Gerry Balding/Flickr

UK shows how Australia can cut emissions without a carbon tax

Australia’s carbon price has gone – but a UK review released this week shows that to lay the foundations for a low-carbon economy, pricing carbon is far from the whole story. Over recent months, as Australia’s…
Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Prime Minister Tony Abbott have finally got their carbon tax repeal bills through the Senate. AAP/Lukas Coch

Abbott’s big victory on carbon tax has a tart taste

Finally, after multiple hurdles and hiccups, Tony Abbott has repealed the carbon tax. He has landed the pledge he took to two elections, delivered the policy reversal that has been most identified with…
High-emission brown coal power generators including Hazelwood are set to be among the short-term winners from the carbon tax repeal. AAP Image/David Crosling

Who gains most from axing the carbon tax – and at what cost?

When the carbon tax was introduced, there was a lot of discussion about winners and losers. The Labor government limited the number of businesses that had to pay the tax, while it also gave carbon tax…
Even before it was born, the carbon price had plenty of friends – and lots of enemies. Shutterstock

Obituary: Australia’s carbon price

The Carbon Pricing Mechanism, known to its friends as the carbon price and its critics as the carbon tax, passed away today in Canberra, aged two, after a long battle with slogans. While it won praise…
Emissions from Australia’s power network fell sharply as a result of the carbon price. Peripitus/Wikimedia Commons

Despite its imminent demise, the carbon price has cut emissions

Carbon emissions in Australia’s national electricity market would have been 11 to 17 million tonnes higher if Australia had not introduced a carbon price. New research using the latest data indicates that…
Leader of the House Christopher Pyne and Environment Minister Greg Hunt when the carbon tax repeal passed through the lower house on Monday. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Carbon tax repeal raises long-term risks for Australian business

The bill to repeal Australia’s “carbon tax” is poised to pass the Senate, potentially leaving Australia without a working price on carbon. In the short term, the repeal may provide some relief for businesses…
In the media spotlight: Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer outside the Senate chamber at Parliament House this week. Lukas Coch/AAP

Palmer’s populist carbon tax ploy won’t cut power bills

If you heard Clive Palmer and his Palmer United senators say today that they will only scrap the carbon tax with stronger rules to protect consumers, you might have thought they sounded quite fair and…
Clive Palmer announced his climate policy at a press conference with former US vice president Al Gore last night. AAPImage/Alan Porritt

AUDIO Q&A: What’s in and out of Palmer’s climate strategy

In a surprising announcement last night Clive Palmer promised to abolish Australia’s current carbon price, and block the coalition’s Direct Action policy. But Palmer has said he will vote to retain the…
The new budget has served up a big hit to Australia’s environment. Anton Balazh/Shutterstock

Litany of deep cuts for environmental programs

Budgets are often framed as give and take. But in the case of the environment, the government is taking large amounts of money in cuts, while giving little back beyond funding the Direct Action climate…
Greg Hunt says he is confident the Emissions Reduction Fund will meet its target of cutting carbon pollution by 5%. AAP Image/Daniel Munoz

Direct Action policy still leaves loopholes open for big polluters

The long-awaited White Paper on the A$2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund answers some questions about how the Abbott government’s Direct Action climate plan will work. But it looks like the policy will…
Much more to be done in fertilising the green economy. Niall Carson/PA

Less talk, more walk required to green the economy

The idea of the “green economy” goes in and out of fashion, not least because it is rarely defined and frequently misunderstood. Partly this is because different groups find ways to exaggerate the aspects…
It is still not clear how emissions reductions will be measured. Marcus Wong/Wikimedia Commons

Three major loopholes in the Direct Action climate plan

You could be forgiven for missing it, but on the Friday afternoon before Christmas, federal environment minister Greg Hunt released the draft details of the Emissions Reduction Fund – the centrepiece of…
Making too much money can be the undoing of an emissions reduction scheme. Images_of_Money/Flickr

To cut more emissions, a carbon tax needs to raise less revenue

Carbon (emissions) taxes have proved unpalatable world-wide, compared to (carbon) emissions trading schemes. But taxes give stable carbon prices while prices in emissions trading schemes yo-yo, plunge…
How much will getting rid of the carbon price save households? AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Axing the carbon tax: saving households, costing climate

With the government introducing legislation to repeal the carbon price today, people might be wondering how much they will benefit from reduced cost of living. The government has continued to claim that…
Reducing emissions will work better if we’re not so stuck in our abatement ways. Power plant image from shutterstock.com

Direct action vs carbon pricing: we can have it all

We should not be debating a choice between direct action and carbon pricing: we need both, but with credible, well-designed mechanisms. Why we need both We need a carbon price based on certificate trading…
Environment minister Greg Hunt and prime minister Tiny Abbott are keen to repeal the carbon tax as soon as parliament sits - but it may prove harder than they thought. AAP/Alan Porritt

Carbon tax showdown: the rocky road ahead for Abbott

The Coalition will introduce its draft bill to repeal the Clean Energy Act into parliament next week. The bill would effectively remove the current carbon tax and its planned replacement, an emissions…
Bill Shorten is reportedly reconsidering the Labor Party’s position on the question of a carbon tax, the latest chapter in Labor’s long history with climate change policy. AAP/Alan Porritt

From Hawke to Shorten: the ALP’s vexed history with the carbon tax

As the new leader of the Labor opposition, Bill Shorten has a number of issues to deal with that have been left over from the previous three years of Labor government. Working out Labor’s climate change…
What are the constitutional and political issues for Tony Abbott to consider around double dissolution elections? AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: what are double dissolutions and how do they work?

Prime minister Tony Abbott has indicated (again) that he is willing to set in motion the procedures necessary to call a double dissolution election, in order to force the repeal of the carbon tax through…
There’s a reason we have a price on carbon. Repealing it may save taxpayers a little money, but it will cause long-term problems. Roxy Chen

Repealing the carbon tax: hidden costs and unanswered questions

There are reasons Australia has a price on carbon. Let’s recap. The IPCC has released its Fifth Assessment Report stating that the increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide…
Carbon pricing remains a hot political football that no political party is quite sure how best to handle. AAP/Alan Porritt

Is a referendum on the carbon tax political suicide for Labor?

In recent days, opposition leader Tony Abbott has more forcefully argued that, if successful in winning the Saturday poll, his new government would have the mandate to scrap the government’s carbon pricing…
Recent reports reveal that the cost of environmental damage far outweighs the cost of business model restructuring. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Dollar signs of the times: how our politicians are costing the Earth

One of the most depressing and puzzling features of the current election campaign is the lack of emphasis on the costs that environmental risks pose to industry and business. Australian politicians appear…
The last few years in Australian politics have seen the rise of a new definition of ‘lying’. AAP/Lukas Coch

Redefining the lie: politics and porkies

Lie (v.) (1) To make a politically unpopular statement; (2) [retrospectively applied] To make a statement which appears inconsistent with a more recent statement, indicating that its maker has changed…
In his budget reply speech, Tony Abbott made the unpredicted announcement that he would maintain carbon tax compensation but still abolish the tax. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott’s balancing act: keeping the compensation while axing the carbon tax

In his federal budget reply speech, opposition leader Tony Abbott announced that a putative coalition government would maintain the revised tax-free threshold and other associated carbon tax compensation…
Evidence shows most people did not gamble away their carbon tax compensation, despite media claims at the time. AAP

We got fed a line but carbon tax compo wasn’t ‘swallowed’ by pokies

Like many policy issues in Australia, the public debate and media coverage on the relationship between government payments and spending at electronic gaming machines or ‘pokies’ is sensationalist and exaggerated…
Australia’s newspapers took a very shallow view of the carbon price. Beppie K/flickr

Biased newspaper reporting on the carbon pricing mechanism

The Australian print media have been criticised for inaccurately reporting the carbon pricing mechanism (CPM), and in some instances for actively campaigning against the Gillard government. Research from…
A coal ship caught on Nobby’s Beach in Newcastle. The city is the biggest in the world for coal exports. asnewlibrarian/Flick

Why Australia must stop exporting coal

Why get worked up about our climate responsibilities when Australia’s contribution to global emissions – around 1.5% of the total - is small? Here is the usual reply. Australia’s domestic greenhouse gas…
The Mining industry’s “This is our Story” campaign showing the sector’s relationship with ordinary Australians may be part of a longer term strategy to avoid further taxation. Screenshot from thisisourstory.com.au

Hearts, minds and hip pockets: how the resources industry aims to win over ordinary Australians

Have you wondered why those chipper ads that share the personal stories of mining workers are still being rolled out on TV and at cinemas? In one, I recently learned about a sweet group of women whose…
Compensation candidate: The Yallourn power plant in the La Trobe Valley. Flickr/Dallas75

Right to compensation was folly from the start

In some respects, we should be relieved by the collapse of the Labor government’s negotiations to decommission some of the most polluting brown-coal electricity generation plants. The notion that decommissioning…
When it comes to accounting for the carbon tax, accountants need to embrace a transdisciplinary approach. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Thinking outside the square: accountants have a role to play in a sustainable future

Can business and accountants guide us on the path to sustainability? Will business and accounting leaders of the future have the necessary skills to solve complex sustainability problems? How can new pathways…
Pretty much everyone agrees with Julia Gillard’s assessment of why power prices are up. But there are many views on how to bring them down. Tom Taker

We know why power prices are up, but what should we do?

Mr Abbott has learnt the hard way that the electricity industry is complex and that there is more to rising electricity bills than carbon pricing. Ms Gillard correctly identified rising costs of “poles…
If health ministers want to keep people out of here they should be supporting - not opposing - action on climate change. Dan Cox

Health ministers' attacks on climate change action are just sick

The ACCC has been vigilant about following up the 45 or so carbon price gouging complaints it gets each day. But who can stop the politicians? Their relentless carbon price scare campaigns seek to frighten…
While Australia fears either an environment or economic doomsday, other countries get on with making a cleaner future. Detail of Hieronymus Bosch's The Last Judgment, from Flickr/profzucker

Apocalypse Not: doomsday thinkers of Oz should get out more

I sometimes wonder what planet this country of ours is on. The environmental debate we are having seems to be in a parallel universe to the rest of the world. Having spent the last four years running one…
Tony Abbott described the carbon tax as a python that would strangle the economy, but it’s more of a lolly snake. Flickr/anenomeprojectors

Why the carbon-tax ‘python’ won’t squeeze the economy

Some critics of carbon pricing have pointed out that, over time, the carbon price will increase to a much higher level and devastate the economy. Indeed, the image of a python squeezing the life out of…
Economic modelling shows Australia’s GDP will be modestly affected by the carbon tax in the long term: but the equitable redistribution of tax revenue will be critical. AAP

The carbon tax: insurance against climate change?

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is like buying an insurance policy: we incur a cost to reduce a risk. Every year Australians spend millions on insuring homes, cars and their health, not because they know…
Not winning them over… some plain speaking might have helped the Gillard government explain just how the carbon tax will impact on electricity prices. AAP

Plain speaking on the carbon tax and electricity prices

Confusion continues on how the carbon tax will hit the electricity bills of Australian households. While messages from electricity retailers may be on their way, Gujji Muthuswamy from Monash University’s…
Landcare get-together: reducing our toll on nature comes in part from many of us taking steps that individually are not always so big, but which accumulate. The carbon tax is one such step. Flickr/feral arts

Little by little: the benefits of Australian climate policy

A catchment threatened by salinity can’t be repaired by one or two landholders. Revegetation designed to lower watertables has its greatest ecological benefit where the plants are, but its net impact on…
Former politician and economist John Hewson speaks to ANU’s Crawford School’s Bruce Chapman and Daniel Connell.

John Hewson: tax reform doesn’t just mean lowering taxes

Welcome to the latest in our In Conversation series, between former politician and economist Dr John Hewson, Australian National University (ANU) Crawford School Director of Policy Impact Professor Bruce…
Sold to the lowest bidder! The carbon price will not transform Australia’s power supply without further steps to help low-emission technologies into the market. Flickr/sashafatcat

Low-emission’s missing link: reverse auctions for clean power

When it comes to reducing emissions, most serious analysts agree: the market works best, but the market is not enough. The International Energy Agency, the OECD, leading British climate economist Nicholas…
Poverty of vision: the carbon tax is about more than individuals' hip pockets. AAP/Julian Smith

Selling the carbon tax: individual versus collective self-interest

July 1 has rolled past and Australia has a carbon tax. As Government Ministers prepare to hit the road to spruik the benefits of the tax, it’s worth shining a spotlight on the kinds of messages they love…
Obesity can be seen as a carbon store on our waistlines originally sourced from coal mines and oil wells. Bobcatnorth/Flickr

Putting health at the heart of sustainability policy

OBESE NATION: It’s time to admit it - Australia is becoming an obese nation. This series looks at how this has happened and more importantly, what we can do to stop the obesity epidemic. Today Anthony…
The two major parties have taken different approaches to compensating households for the carbon tax. Jonas B

The carbon tax, compensation and households: a two-party comparison

The two main political parties agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 5% below the 2000 level, or about a 20% reduction below business as usual. However, they propose very different policy…
Tony Abbott has pledged to repeal the carbon tax, but it may be more difficult than he thinks. AAP/David Crosling

Tony Abbott cannot escape the international climate game

What’s in a name? Well, like “Montague” and “Capulet” in Shakespeare’s play, names matter quite a lot in the tribal world of Australian climate politics. The notion of a “carbon tax” has struck a raw nerve…
We’re banking on business as usual to solve our environmental problems, but we’re likely to be disappointed. Tony.../Flickr

The carbon tax: markets won’t deliver necessary emission cuts

Australia will introduce a carbon tax on Sunday at A$23 per tonne of carbon. In 2015, an emissions trading scheme (ETS) will replace the tax. The aim is to cut Australian greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions…
Switching off the beer fridge in the garage when you’re not using it could save you as much as you’ll spend on the carbon tax. Keenan Brown

The carbon tax needn’t cost you: easy ways to cut energy costs

If Treasury modelling is right, about half of household carbon cost will be included in energy bills, which are now about 3% of household expenditure. That means the carbon cost on energy adds about 0.3…
With natural gas - like other commodities - it can be necessary for prices to rise in anticipation of increasing demand. Flickr/jasonwoodhead23

Natural gas: expect price to rise as market expands

Many are concerned with the price of natural gas. Natural gas is an important part of Australia’s overall energy mix; it represents roughly a quarter of all primary energy sources consumed. And, as we…
Australia is trying to decarbonise by 2050. The technology is there, but we need an economic revolution. Owen James

Australia to hit 2012 Kyoto target, but don’t get excited

The recent announcement that Australia is on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol target for greenhouse gas emissions is an indication of satisfactory performance, not an exemplary outcome. The target is 108…
Campbell Newman says Queensland’s carbon-reduction policies aren’t needed under a carbon price, but what does he mean? AAP

State climate schemes still worthwhile under a carbon price

In justifying their recent abandonment of state-based climate schemes, the governments of Queensland and Victoria have both claimed that the schemes will be redundant under the federal emissions trading…
Species have trouble getting around without landscape-scale corridors. Michael Dawes

Why a carbon tax for wildlife corridors is a good idea

In the 1980s, ecologists were locked in a debate about how best to preserve biodiversity. Which, they asked, was better: a single large reserve, or several small reserves? The debate was never resolved…
Sending the same message to everyone at once is an old-fashioned approach. Boston Public Library

Australians need more than one message on the carbon tax

The Federal Government is once again hitting difficulties in communicating its carbon pricing proposal, with polling finding Australians don’t like the word carbon. The government is reconsidering its…
With Alcoa reviewing its Geelong smelter, just what is the future for the aluminium industry? AAP

The solutions to Alcoa’s problems may lie in its backyard

The sight of molten metal pouring from a furnace has long been an iconic symbol of industrial might and wealth. In Australia, the metallurgical industries have provided long term jobs and wealth to many…
Qantas has cited the carbon price and high oil costs for a price hike - but aviation pricing isn’t straightforward. AAP

The upside to Qantas and Jetstar’s price hikes

Qantas and its low cost carrier division Jetstar have announced they will increase domestic and international airfares in stages from February through to July 1. The justification is a combination of increasing…
Australian newspapers took a largely negative view of carbon pricing. avlxyz/Flickr

Carbon pricing policy in the media

While corporate media often criticise the poor communication of others, they are reluctant to critique their own power to influence public opinion and debate. Today the Australian Centre for Independent…
There’s a lot of detail in the carbon price legislation, but it comes down to six key points. Australian Government

Explainer: Australia’s carbon price mechanism in six dot points

Australia’s carbon price mechanism has become law. But how does it work? There are six key points: 1. Australia’s emissions trajectory Australia has committed unconditionally to reduce its greenhouse gas…
The media can’t get enough of the controversy whipped up by climate sceptics. Mat McDermott

Improving climate change reportage – a must for the media enquiry

When announcing the media enquiry in September this year, Senator Conroy committed to regulatory processes that support “a healthy and independent media that is able to fulfill its essential democratic…
Passing the carbon price through the Senate is a victory, but there is plenty yet to be done. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Celebrate a carbon tax, then take three steps to a zero carbon Australia

At long last, the Gillard Government’s carbon price is law. On July 1 next year, approximately 500 of our biggest companies will start paying the government $23 for every tonne of greenhouse gas they emit…
Sequestration of carbon dioxide is safe, effective and it’s happening right now. CO2CRC

Carbon capture and storage – a vital part of our climate change response

One of the biggest challenges in our fight against climate change is reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the energy sector. Approximately 87% of current global primary energy supplies (and 67…
Cutting company tax rates reflects Labor’s continuing acceptance of a neoliberal agenda when it comes to tax reform. AAP

Here’s a novel reform idea - tax the rich

The introduction of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax into federal parliament marks the next step in Labor’s neoliberal tax reform agenda. Another example, the carbon tax, is poised to pass through the Senate…
Unhappy with politics in this country? You’re not the only one. AAP/Alan Porritt

Gilliard Government marked down in ‘could do better’ democracy report

Australians are more dissatisfied with the way democracy works now than they were after the Rudd government was elected, a poll has found. According to the ANU poll of 2001 people, there has been a 13…
Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd celebrated the government’s carbon tax success, but she doesn’t have much reason to celebrate. AAP/Alan Porritt

Gillard’s political migration: one step forward, two steps back

Last week demonstrated how fast fortunes may change in politics. Just as the government thought it could get onto the front foot, it experienced a significant setback by not being able to make changes…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard congratulates Kevin Rudd as the carbon pricing package passes the lower house. AAP

The carbon pricing package passes - what now for business?

Australian businesses are facing a significant new policy regime with the passing of the Federal Government’s controversial emissions trading legislative package through the House of Representatives. As…
Argument has raged outside parliament - is there anything left to say inside? AAP

What’s the point of debating the carbon tax?

It all started in February when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her government would seek to introduce a carbon tax. This signalled the start of a policy debate marathon that still shows no sign…
Future demand for electricity is hard to determine, but one thing’s for sure: prices will rise. freefotouk

Power prices rising, time for politicians to act

On August 31, the Australian Financial Review reported that “Power-hungry states face energy shock”. Another article on page ten read “Electricity price explosion predicted”. So, what is going on? Should…
Taking on climate change can put us on the path to a green industrial revolution. Matt de Neef

Treading the economic path to green growth

Despite the poor outlook for the Earth’s climate, putting in place acceptable solutions is proving difficult. Mired in economic uncertainty, some countries are scaling back climate change efforts. But…
Planting the idea: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott opposes a carbon tax. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Australia should delay a carbon tax until the rest of the world acts

The big question about the carbon tax is not whether it’s a good or a bad idea in theory. The major issue is whether it makes sense for Australia to implement it at a time of great uncertainty, both in…
Under the carbon tax, Australia will be doing some of its emissions reductions overseas. Truthout.org/Flickr

Trading emissions cuts: easy way out or sensible investment?

Australia is set to use international emissions trading to meet part of an emissions reduction target. Is this sensible and necessary? And how can we achieve investment in real reductions, rather than…
Cate Blanchett is among the celebrities pressed into service to persuade us on political issues. AAP/WWF

Selling the political message: What makes a good advert?

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: This afternoon, Andrew Hughes examines which recent political adverts have been a success, as part of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our…
Facing up to our carbon responsibilities might make Australians happier. the waving cat/Flickr

A carbon tax is good for Australia’s mental health

Let’s face it; we just don’t like the word “tax”, do we? Such a brouhaha, such a fuss. But let’s just take a break from the group hysteria to look at the carbon tax from a few different points of view…
Complementary measures in the tax package make it easier for businesses to reduce emissions. Theophilos/Flickr

Carbon tax package could let Australia cut emissions by 25% by 2020

With all the focus on the carbon tax, it is not surprising many people are unaware that the government’s carbon pricing package incorporated a suite of other measures to reduce emissions. ClimateWorks…
Hazlewood coal-fired power station would be uneconomic under a carbon tax. AAP

A recipe for making the carbon tax a success

The carbon tax is the latest attempt by an Australian government to legislate in order to avert disaster, this time to the climate. Whether the tax will become law sits on a knife edge, and the stakes…
Interventionist or free market - just where do our economists sit? Flickr/Daquella Manera

What our economists really think about politics

A funny thing happened on the way to this year’s Australian Conference of Economists. A survey was conducted of the policy opinions of members of the Economic Society of Australia (ESA). Far from conforming…
Price-gouging might occur under the carbon tax regime, but market discipline will keep it in check. Flickr/dmcneil

Trust the market – why regulation won’t stop carbon tax gouging

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has announced that the government will provide the competition watchdog with almost $13 million in extra funding to tackle carbon tax-related price-gouging. In this context…
What will the carbon tax mean for our wide brown land? bfick/flickr

Brave new world? Australia after a carbon tax

The flurry of media that followed Julia Gillard’s announcement of the carbon price plan on Sunday had a clear, simple message. How much will you pay, and how much will you get back? But the introduction…
The plan provides nearly $100 million for our unique biodoversity. pierre pouliquin/flickr

What does the carbon price package mean for biodiversity?

How effective will the carbon tax package’s biodiversity measures be in conserving Australia’s ecosystems? The carbon price package’s biodiversity measures are a pleasant surprise. To the extent that the…
More than just a patch of dirt: the clean energy plan should help us get the most out of our land. bfick/flickr

A Clean Energy Future: what’s in it for the land?

The Australian government’s plan for a Clean Energy Future contains a number of measures aimed at supporting farmers and land managers to provide emissions offsets. The plan consists of a mix of market-based…
Julia Gillard was confronted by a shopper about the government’s carbon tax. AAP/Patrick Hamilton

Gillard’s carbon tax fightback evens up the playing field

Before the details of the carbon tax were released this week, the government was fighting with one hand tied behind its back. Sometimes it looked like it had both hands and feet manacled as Prime Minister…
The scientists are talking and the Prime Minister is nodding, but is she really listening? AAP

Carbon tax plan is politically astute but profoundly inadequate

Amid the hullabaloo about the carbon tax and Clean Energy Future plan, few seem to spot its critical discrepancy. It recognises that maintaining a safe climate requires stabilising carbon pollution in…
Money is the key theme across the climate change debate: what happened to sustainability? louisa catlover/flickr

A clean energy future should be about more than money

The Government’s equation for creating a prosperous and sustainable Australia includes four key factors: carbon price, renewable energy, energy efficiency and land use efficiency. But it is evident that…
In the frame: David Jones has fallen victim of slumping consumer confidence - but is it warranted?

Are doubts about consumer confidence justified?

Consumer confidence has fallen by 8.3% to its lowest level in two years, according to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index. The drop has been connected to speculation about the impact…
Julia Gillard claims Peabody’s $5bn bid shows international confidence in the coal industry’s future. AAP

Peabody’s bid for Macarthur Coal is hardly a carbon tax endorsement

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has claimed that US-based Peabody Energy’s $5bn takeover bid for Queensland’s Macarthur Coal represents an endorsement for the government’s carbon tax. But does Peabody’s bid…
Latrobe Valley’s longer term future will depend on the cost of building new gas-fired plants. AAP

After coal: what’s the future of Victoria’s Latrobe Valley?

There appears to be lots of ‘doom and gloom’ around brown coal generation in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley under the carbon tax. It is far from obvious that this is justified – at least in the next few years…
Without a carbon price, other countries may lose interest in our exports. Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden/Flickr

Why a price on carbon is good news for Australian trade

In the lead up to the carbon price announcement, much of the criticism of the scheme has talked about the damage to Australia’s exports. But the move to price carbon could save us from a far worse economic…
Households will bear more financial burdens as Gillard’s carbon tax regime matures. AAP

Carbon tax will make working families pay for problems markets created

The carbon tax is short-term carrot and long-term stick. The Coalition’s campaign against “a great big new tax” drove Gillard to introduce a tax for which most people and businesses affected will be compensated…
Onward and upward, or not? AAP

The carbon tax package

The Australian government announced on 10 July it would introduce a carbon tax at $23 a tonne in July 2012, rising 2.5% annually plus inflation and moving to a market-based emissions trading scheme in…
Counterintuitively, the carbon tax may make it harder to get a bus. Dale Gillard/Flickr

Public transport - collateral damage of our new carbon price

Transport accounts for 14% of Australia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and has one of the fastest emission growth rates. Cutting our national emissions might, therefore, be expected to shine a blowtorch…
Tripling the tax-free threshold could be the spoonful of sugar that makes the carbon price palatable. AAP

Frank Jotzo: popular tax cuts and a carbon price that just might deliver

Two years ago Australian climate policy looked dead. Now we are on the verge of legislation that puts a carbon price through much of the Australian economy, alongside new schemes to support renewable energy…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet address a press conference on Sunday. A carbon tax package announced today includes compensation measures and a radical overhaul of income tax policy. ABC News24

The carbon tax: the experts respond

The Australian government announced on Sunday it would introduce a carbon tax at $23 a tonne next July, rising 2.5% annually plus inflation and moving to a market-based emissions trading scheme in 2015…
When we debate a carbon tax, how much thought are we giving to our fragile, drought-prone continent? Raiden256/Flickr

The carbon tax and the ‘climate overboard affair’

As the old saying goes, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. On Sunday, the exhausting, almost decade-long battle to put a price on carbon pollution enters a new phase, when the MultiParty…
Will Steffen (left) in conversation with academic Will Grant (right): “The misinformation campaign that’s been prominent in the media … really is having an impact.”

Will Steffen: phoney debate is over, now for the carbon policy

Welcome to “In Conversation”, our series of discussions between leading academics and major public figures in Australian life. Today, we’re In Conversation with the academic whose research informed the…
With a carbon price, is it OK to start small? ntr23/Flickr

Could smaller be better? Shrinking the carbon tax scheme

There is considerable media speculation that the Government will announce a carbon tax applying to a much smaller number of companies than had previously been expected. As with much of what is announced…
Exempting petrol to protect rural families isn’t very forward thinking. Sids1/Flickr

Carbon-tax-free petrol is a hollow victory for everyday Australians

Full revelations of the Gillard government’s carbon tax are expected in the coming days, but the decision to spare the Australian motorist has just been announced. Picking that this might happen was a…
If farmers aren’t exempt, times could get even tougher. Big Grey Mare/Flickr

No carbon tax on petrol, but who’ll bear the brunt?

The recent announcement that a carbon tax would not be levied on petrol for cars or light vehicles used by motorists, tradespeople and small businesses is an interesting political statement. But this statement…
An emissions trading scheme and a carbon tax are not the same thing. AAP

Explainer: The difference between a carbon tax and an ETS

Since July 2012, Australia has had in place its carbon pricing scheme. It is commonly referred to as a “carbon tax”, but also as an “Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) with a fixed price”. And the plan is…
A big new tax isn’t the problem, our levels of consumption are. JPDaigle/Flickr

Is a carbon tax the only answer? A plea for a fairer way

On Sunday 5 June 2011, 8000 people reportedly turned up to demonstrate support for the Government’s proposed carbon tax. By Sydney standards this amounts to a large public display of support for Government…
An oil extraction project in Canada – a country absent from the Productivity Commission’s carbon report. AAP

An emissions reduction policy beyond comparison?

One of the most basic questions to ask in any analysis of Australia’s carbon policy has always been: what is the rest of the world doing? Last week, the Productivity Commission (PC) published a partial…
Is comparing Australia’s coal to Norway’s hydro a case of apples and oranges? Marcus Ramberg/Flickr

Australia v Norway: does Garnaut’s comparison add up?

Professor Ross Garnaut recently compared Australia and Norway in the context of climate change policy and a carbon tax. It is both curious that he should choose this comparison and that no journalist…
Good governance makes for boring pictures, but trustworthy carbon pricing. AAP

Why Australia needs a carbon bank

The World Bank ranks Australia among the top five countries in the world in terms of its regulatory environment. Australia also ranks in the top ten countries in terms of control of corruption. International…
Fossil fuel power generation doesn’t look like a great investment. jon hanson/Flickr

Increasing electricity prices: watt’s the culprit?

New fossil-fuel power plants that nobody wants to pay for, electricity companies saying power prices will go through the roof: the economy of generating electricity is a complicated business. Last week…
For politicians, there’s no bright future in pushing up petrol prices. Alcohol Gasoline/Flickr

Driving off a cliff? The politics of petrol and carbon-pricing

Politically, increasing petrol prices is one of the least popular things a government can do. But is there any point to a carbon tax if it doesn’t cover petrol? Vladimir Putin has just found how quickly…
Turnbull made his position clear on the ABC’s Lateline.

Party line or Lateline? Turnbull’s Tory temptation

Malcolm Turnbull created a stir on Lateline last night by criticising opposition climate policy. The opposition spokesman for communications and former leader of the party implied that Tony Abbott’s “direct…
An Australian carbon price needs to abide by a pile of international agreements. AAP

Laying down the law on the carbon price

Without a strong legal foundation, any carbon pricing scheme we come up with will be on shaky ground. And right now, the signs aren’t promising. While we don’t yet have a firm idea of what will be incorporated…
A phased approach will help resolve divisions around carbon pricing. AAP

Phased pricing model is our best shot at carbon consensus

Independent MP Tony Windsor was right in early March when he called for a debate on carbon pricing in Australia that is “a little bit more advanced than the word ‘lie’ and the word ‘tax’“. The quality…
Some households will find life gets harder, whichever policy we choose. Flickr/Josh Liba

Carbon price or climate change, the poor pay more

Government modelling has given us a rough idea what a carbon tax could cost households, but will the burden be borne fairly? Whether we have a carbon tax or climate change, poor households will likely…
Or can they? Some families may not be any worse off. AAP

Busting carbon price myths

When we read that a carbon tax will hit the average hip pocket, should we worry? Will the ETS push us all into penury? And will it make any difference to our emissions at all? Can we know the cost to households…
When it comes to climate change policy, the numbers matter. Philippe Put/Flickr

Economics enlightens the climate change debate

Economic arguments have come to dominate the Australian political debate about climate change. When it comes to climate policy, both the government and the opposition talk far more about taxes, trading…
Is Australia waiting for other countries to do all the hard work on renewables? Torresol Energy

A carbon price won’t bring zero emissions

If Australia is truly serious about avoiding climate catastrophe we are going to need to move towards a zero-emissions economy. A price on carbon emissions is an important component of climate protection…
At least three-quarters of city commuters travel by car. AAP

Carbon tax on petrol has zero chance of cutting emissions

Emissions trading is back in the news and in national political debate, as is the related question of how it will affect Australian motorists. Fair enough. This should receive attention because greenhouse…
Polluting our atmosphere shouldn’t be free, for ethical reasons as well as economics. AAP

Ethics beats self-interest in carbon tax debate

The failure to adequately price carbon emissions allows the world’s affluent to impose serious climate-related costs upon its poor. But is this primarily an economic or an ethical issue? Despite fierce…

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