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Will the Opposition’s Direct Action Plan work?

The Coalition has promised that if it takes government in September, it will get rid of the price on carbon emissions established by the Australian Labor Party. In its place, the party will implement a…

The Coalition’s proposed alternative to “the great big new tax” relies on storing carbon in trees and soil. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

The Coalition has promised that if it takes government in September, it will get rid of the price on carbon emissions established by the Australian Labor Party. In its place, the party will implement a Direct Action Plan, its way of reducing emissions. This plan relies mainly on carbon sequestration and funding industrial improvements through taxpayer-funded initiatives.

While the Direct Action Plan outline has been removed from the Coalition website, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and the shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, continue to state the plan is their climate initiative.

What does the Direct Action Plan promise to do?

The plan says:

The single largest opportunity for CO2 emissions reduction in Australia is through bio-sequestration in general, and in particular, the replenishment of our soil carbons. It is also the lowest cost CO2 emissions reduction available in Australia on a large scale.

Through the Emissions Reduction Fund a Coalition Government will commit to a “once in a century” replenishment of our national soils and farmlands.

Through the Fund we will support up to 85 million tonnes per annum of CO2 abatement through soil carbons by 2020 – and reserve the right to increase this, subject to progress and evaluation.

The favoured sequestration strategy is soil carbon storage. This methodology is still controversial, and a review by CSIRO demonstrates the large uncertainties involved in long term storage of carbon in soil.

Because of these difficulties, the Coalition may need to supplement soil sequestration at least in part, if not entirely, with more certain sequestration methodologies, namely tree plantation, if it is to have any impact on Australia’s net CO2 emissions.

The plan does include forestry measures. And on February 5, 2013, Greg Hunt confirmed on ABC News Breakfast that tree plantation would make up part of the plan.

I analysed the sequestration component of the plan to test its viability. To ensure the plan was given the best chance for success within this analysis, the selected assumptions were purposely designed in its favour.

This largely involved assuming soil sequestration would work and that, if not, the best quality plantations could be established and that the necessary high quality land could be sourced.

The species I selected as sequesters were the Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and Shining Gum (E. nitens), with optimum wood density of 600kg per cubic metre and an annual yield of 30 to 35 cubic metres of wood per hectare.

Can it be done?

A relatively modest reduction of 5% below the Australian emissions of CO2 in 1990 yielded a sequestration target of around 77 million m3 of wood per annum.

Sequestration within biomass accounts for around 50% of that biomass' dry weight. For this reason, sequestration becomes a major project if expected to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions on the order of many millions of tonnes.

To achieve the pledged return of an annual 85 million tonnes of CO2, Australian wood production would need to be around four times what it currently is by 2020. The minimum land requirements for this additional wood production would be close to two times the size of Sydney by 2020.

As my analysis relied upon the most optimistic assumptions, real-world limits to tree plantation were ignored and optimal yield was used. The real scale of the Direct Action Plan would be much larger physically, in management and in cost, with real world conditions.

If tree plantation becomes the favoured option, this also presents the additional land and fire management requirements of such a large project.

Sequestration will play a role in mitigation of anthropogenic climate change. However, it would need to be of an immense size, spatially and financially, if it is considered a primary activity, rather than complementary.

In short, while sequestration is of value, to rely upon it at this magnitude is unlikely to be viable, especially by 2020.

Is it cost-effective?

Sequestration is of value, but the scale the Direct Action Plan calls for appears unlikely to be viable, especially by 2020, and is likely to become very expensive as the scale is adjusted over time to deal with increasing emissions reduction targets.

It is unfeasible to imagine that any sequestration initiative of the magnitude required can be achieved without significant additional expense.

Placing this hand-in-hand with funding improvements to industrial efficiency increases the cost to the taxpayer. In the case of the latter, this would be to the benefit of polluters. The Coalition has stated that this will be achieved without further taxes. The only other option is a retraction of standing public services.

The ultimate goal will necessarily be to achieve carbon neutrality. In this case, soil sequestration simply could not fulfil such obligations without major shifts away from a carbon driven economy - we will have to reduce emissions if we hope to sequester all we create.

The Direct Action Plan seems unlikely to be a viable counter pathway to the established price on carbon, because a carbon price has intrinsic market-based motivators to decouple carbon emissions from economic growth.

Ultimately, a quick analysis demonstrates the plan is very unlikely to provide the returns promised by the Coalition and is most likely to increase in cost beyond what has been promised by the Coalition. This is especially true if the Coalition eventually plans to scale up to meet future reduction targets or if it becomes necessary to scale up, simply due to returns failing to meet current targets.

The full report, A Review of the Viability of the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan, can be downloaded here.

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154 Comments sorted by

  1. John Newlands

    tree changer

    It is very tempting to regard biosequestration as bigger and better than it really is. It creates the moral hazard of slacking off on coal restraint. It has the potential to become a form of rural pork barrelling akin to corn ethanol quotas in the US. Pundits will estimate the cost of CO2 avoided as they have done for pink batts, solar panels etc and it seems highly likely that will come to well over $23 per tonne of CO2.

    The suspicion that it is a feelgood/porkbarrel exercise will be reinforced when an exemplary farm or plantation loses most of it stored carbon through fire, dieback or drought but there is is no redress. That is a doubled up effort to make up the carbon loss.

    On the other hand the LNP could permit nuclear baseload to replace some large coal fired power stations. That seems unlikely coming from the ALP. Therefore I wouldn't yet say the LNP are completely off track.

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  2. Edward Cannella

    Zoologist

    "Direct Action Plan"???? Unfortunately, this does not meet the basic requirements for a policy. It is simply an idea. How will it work? How will it be implemented? What will it cost? What will the outcomes be? Will the outcomes be measurable? How much will taxpayers fork out to compensate industry? What are the justifications for the compensation? Are there any analogs to suggest such ideas work?

    For the moment it is typical political spin and piffle. Need details, need details. Political ideas are like morals, they change with the wind and can never be relied on as fact.

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  3. Mike Hansen

    Mr.

    Greg Hunt on Lateline last year explaining how they are going to do it with soil carbon sequestration.

    “We are talking about a land mass, if you are achieving the 150 million tonnes [of CO2 per annum], of an area of roughly 100 square kilometres. Not tens of thousands, but 100 square kilometres of intensive agriculture would make an extraordinary achievement on many of the estimates.”
    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2011/s3179336.htm

    As science blogger Tim Lambert pointed out
    "Impressive…

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    1. Tim Lubcke

      Research Officer at Monash University

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Actually reading through DAP when I was provided a copy following an earlier draft, I was surprised at it's lack of detail. I expected far more explanation into methodology.

      Yet half of it focused on criticising the ALP and the rest, expected totals of CO2 reductions and a basic sum of the costs. How could it actually be considered a plan?

      I'd love to get my hands of a copy of this draft dam plan...

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Tim Lubcke

      Tim, did you see that episode of The Drum a week or so ago, on the day the 0-position's Dam Lies discussion paper was leaked?

      There was a young environmental engineer from the Wentworth Group (wish I could remember his name - a very calm and cogent communicator) invited on as a guest expert. His essential summary was that, while there were no absolute reasons in principle why one mightn't consider more dams, the problem was that almost all the vaguely realistic options had already been explored several times and, and a result of pretty careful scientific and economic analysis, found to simply be anything from poor to disastrous propositions.

      In short, the reason few dams have been built lately is not (appealing as it might be as an excuse) because pinko greenies have prevented them, but because they wouldn't f'ing well work!

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    3. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Yes, any river dams worth putting in were done generations ago. To say we could build more now suggests that we have more viable water flows than we did when it was wetter. But of course, logic and reality are not a political strong suit at the moment, especially with the LNP and environmental issues.

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    4. Tim Lubcke

      Research Officer at Monash University

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      On my blog I did a little post on the dam plan. From what Abbott has said about it, one of the major motivators for a 100 new dams is water insecurity. Yet, dams emit methane.

      Liu et al (2013) in Nature recently showed that an amplified greenhouse effect works differently to warming due to increased solar activity. Basically is seems the atmosphere becomes more stable with an increasing greenhouse effect, leading to drier conditions.

      So, in essence this dam plan will exacerbate the conditions, more greenhouse gas emissions, that lead one to build them in the first place.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Tim Lubcke

      Pretty much just more tail-chasing, isn't it?

      Of course, I doubt any of that leak, or the stuff on developing the North, have anything to do with anything the Coal-ition actualy intend to do - I rather suspect it's mainly to placate the Nationals and try to woo back the Katter/Hansonite vote.

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    6. Roger Simpson

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Tim Lubcke

      I also wonder about the feasibility of further developing our north given the seasonal cyclones, floods etc... The ongoing infrastructure costs to the taxpayer would be enormous.

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    7. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Tim Lubcke

      I hope you tried to estimate the quantity of cement we'll be needing - really cranks out the CO2 that cement making -about 4% of global emissions all by itself.

      Now I wonder if they've deducted that from the prophesied Direct Action outcomes or do we have another policy black hole?

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    8. Dave McRae

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Tim Stubbs is that young engineer from the Wentworth Group, Felix

      14 Feb 13 edition http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/program/30938

      I never have watched the drum but was urged to by twitter for this segment - minute 29:30 he's on.

      I saw the earlier parts of the Drum and why I never watch it, it is so rubbish - well almost all - the rare occasion they'll get someone on who knows what he's talking about, and this was one of those times.

      Good cartoon by David Pope today as well :) http://images.canberratimes.com.au/2013/02/27/4067324/ss-gall-pope-20130227200427878647-600x400.jpg

      Will Abbott call a double dissolution early 2015 to honour his blood pledge? I don't know. I reckon Abbott not only doesn't know himself, he truly doesn't care. He'll say+do anything Ms Credlin tells him to do to get the prize.

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    9. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Dave McRae

      Thanks Dave - agree about The Drum in general (why do they think it's reasonable to regularly have a member of the IPA on the panel without including a member of the Socialist Youth Alliance to 'balance' him out?) but that was a great segment - Stubbs was genuinely impressive.

      By the way I already have a fair collection of prints of David Pope's wonderful cartoons (makes you proud to be a Canberran, and you can get signed copies for only $44 each from info@scratchmeadia.com.au) but I think I might order a copy of that one as well!

      And finally, apropos of Peta Credlin, I hadn't been aware that she was a spirit medium able to channel the spirit of Bartholomew Santamaria..

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    10. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Dave McRae

      Dave McRae,

      >"I reckon Abbott not only doesn't know himself, he truly doesn't care. He'll say+do anything Ms Credlin tells him to do to get the prize."

      Showing your party political bias as usual.

      Given the demonstrated incompetence of this government I wonder if you shouldn't consider rewording your statement:

      >"I reckon Gillard not only doesn't know herself, she truly doesn't care. She'll say+do anything Mr John McTernan and the union leaders tell her to do to try to retain government, no matter what the long term damage to the country."

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    11. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Peter Lang

      "Showing your party political bias as usual."

      Thanks for the demonstration.

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    12. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, you'll notice he also failed to comment on the failings of Silvio Berlusconi, David Cameron, Angela Merkel or any other political leader. That might be because he was addressing the topic of this article - the Coal-ition's 'policy'.

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    13. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      "I rather suspect it's mainly to placate the Nationals and try to woo back the Katter/Hansonite vote". Precisely! It is hot air and waffle, which will be abandoned, immediately following the coal-ition's election as government, on the basis that the current economic climate is not compatible with such a large investment of public funds for no immediate financial return. After all, Tony Abbott is the man who says anthropogenic global warming is bullsh*t and, after all, he is widely held to be a connoisseur of bullsh*t.

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    14. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      The carbon/nitrogen ratio in the soil is 10:1. How do farmers acquire and pay for sufficient artificial nitrogen to allow this balance to occur ?
      Legumes will never get there on their own and it is pretty obvious that if the soils are loaded with increased carbon and the soils naturally attempt to regain their natural balance, that crops will be lacking nitrogen and will therefore be significantly reduced in both yield and quality.
      The idea is a Furphy !

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    15. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Michael Hay

      If carbon sequestration in soils doesn't work, at least it won't waste anywhere near as much money as the CO2 tax, ETS and renewable energy subsidies.

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    16. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      If you are not a climate change denier, you would have to admit that forecasts of increase storms in Northern Australia are dumping a huge surplus of water onto that area. Add the normal tropical monsoons and the filling of new dams becomes less controversial.
      My personal wish is for tunnels to be driven through the mountains so that flood waters could be directed inland instead of causing flood pollution to the Great Barrier Reef and devastation to the river valleys of Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
      How about that for a useful infrastructure programme ?

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    17. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Michael Hay

      You surely must be joking. Show me any authoritative analysis that says the CO2 tax, ETS or renewable energy will make the slightest difference to the climate.

      Please don't pour out a pile of your personal beliefs or anyone else's. Show me the actual analysis. Explain in your own words the cost benefits.

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    18. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Aw Pete do a bit of reading... google it up ... there's no excuse for being ignorant anymore.

      But one of the most significant benefits is the increased stress and anxiety it imposes on old cranks which will hopefully see a dramatic decline in their numbers.

      Keep fuming and fulminating. It's good for you. Really.

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    19. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Michael Hay

      I haven't seen a viability study that supports that idea at all. Especially when salinity risks from irrigation are far too prominent and new dams ruin the natural ecosystem. The Ord has already been dammed and, to my knowledge, there are no other rivers worth doing that to.

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    20. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Misrepresentation and a clear display of your loony Left ideological bias. Nothing rational here. Just bile.

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    21. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Direct Action has its own system of subsidies for businesses to cut emissions. We're not entirely clear how that works yet or how much general revenue that represents but you seem all to ready to sign a blank cheque.

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    22. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Andrew Vincent

      No. That's where you are wrong. It's not a blank cheque. It's capped at $3.6 billion. It is this government that is committing us to the blank cheque. As I've said before, before you first need to understand what the government has committed us to.

      Using Treasury figures, the ETS will cost us $10 for every $1 of projected savings. But the $1 of projected savings will no be achieved unless the wold commits to a global carbon pricing scheme. And that almost certainly will not happen. So the Australian ETS is all cost and no benefit.

      I have a question for you: How much difference will the ETS make to the climate?

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  4. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    I am of the view that the plan is doomed to fail, because it is designed to fail.

    The opposition leader and many in the coalition are well known for their denier views on the science, and by placing complete control of all elements of who gets what and where the money comes from in the hands of the government, then they can ultimately decide 'it is too expensive', or 'won't work' etc, and nothing will get done. Which is, after all, what they want.

    It is a disengeous plan anyway. The coalition is supposed to be the party of the free market, yet they want to abandon the current plan for a market based mechanism in favour of government picking who gets what. And if that isn't strange enough, Hockey has already said that the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency will be closed under a coalition government. So who will be responsible to implement the direct action plan? No-one by the looks of it.

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    1. Tim Lubcke

      Research Officer at Monash University

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I entirely agree. Yet they are doing well in the polls and selling this plan as a viable alternative.

      If they want to provide an alternative government for this upcoming election, they certainly better have credible goals and methodologies on the table. If not, as with DAP, I think we are obliged to ensure as many people as possible understand exactly what they are voting for. In this case, an expensive, poorly explained plan that seems designed to ensure little to nothing is done to decouple carbon emissions from economic growth.

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Tim Lubcke

      Thanks for your response Tim,

      Unfortunately, I don't think that the viability or otherwise of policies is going to be a factor in this election. There was an excellent article published on The Conversation only a few days ago (I forget by who) that showed that people are intending to vote for the coalition, but when questioned, thought they would be worse off. Go figure!

      I tend to think that Australians vote against governments, not for oppositions. And given that most don't like the current government, we are going to get the coalition in September notwithstanding their lack of any policy alternatives.

      I think the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate is our only hope.

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    3. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      The LNP's "direct action" plan is a fig leaf to cover the fact that they do not really accept the science as it does not suit their ideological beliefs (Malcolm Turnbull excepted). Most of the LNP have voiced opinions which indicate their unwillingness to accept the science.

      It is doubtful it will be implemented, more likely it will quietly disappear when they are elected.

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    4. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Tim Lubcke

      Doing the least a LNP government can get away with combined with ongoing efforts to undermine trust in climate science and keep the public confused and misinformed - to push and hold the least-it-can-get-away-with bar down as far as possible - looks like a winning combination. So how come I'm so convinced we'll ultimately lose big time as a consequence? Oh, yeah - trusting scientists rather than pollies, the telly and papers!

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    5. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Wouldn't it be nice to have another "middle ground" party to balance the two major scrappers. If only the Nationals would once again set up on their own instead of being tied to the coattails of the current Opposition.
      But I dream of impossibilities becoming realities - I dream of a Government which would concentrate on Governing - I dream of the instigation of proper debate in our Parliamentary process and the installation of an independent, unelected Speaker who well understood the techniques of debate and who had the power to shut off any twit who was hell-bent on merely using the floor as a place for mouthing off of unnecessary twaddle.

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  5. Peter Watson

    Geologist

    In answer to your headline question.
    There are two correct answers to this.
    1; Extremely doubtful, ie No. (this covers the purported point of the exercise).
    2; Yes, absolutely, it will succeed in doing exactly what it was intended to achive, the politics that is. (As long as it doesn't use any land, costs nothing, doesn't require scientific expertise and verification or a civil service and doesn't upset Christopher Monkton and Andrew Bolt).
    I'd say they have both options covered.

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  6. Tim Scanlon

    Debunker

    I've also crunched some number on tree carbon sequestration and I couldn't make it work. I took a tree growth figure that was the average for productive/agricultural lands, so it was a lower figure. It wasn't very long before we didn't have anything other than trees.

    Soil carbon storage is also not particularly realistic. Biochar is the only real option and it is still only a mid-term storage option and still needs to be put into the ground and matched with the right soils for the right biochar source. This is not something that will be a wide-enough-spread option.

    But, sure, lets just keep fucking up this planet for a while longer. We only know we're doing it and how to fix it, why would we bother?

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    1. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      so in essence, they mine the coal, then attempt to replace the coal somewhere else with biochar.

      I would have thought it to be more economically efficient and effective to reduce the amount of carbon being released through investment in renewable tech and incentives to reduce emissions.

      I certainly don't support throwing tax payer money at polluting industries. I don't believe for one second they would actually use that money for that purpose, i.e. if the taxpayer throws money at a company for it's pollution, by reducing the pollution does the company then get less money?

      Making companies pay for their emissions seems to be the only sensible motivator as it does impact in a negative (as opposed to positive) impact on their balance sheets.

      Woops... ETS

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    2. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Making coal to make up for the emissions made by burning coal? Making bio-coal to replace the burning of mined coal might make some (sort of) sense.

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    3. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      how about we leave the coal in the ground and use the "biocoal"? might help to diminish the externalised costs assocaited with mining the stuff in the first place.

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  7. Felix MacNeill

    Environmental Manager

    I'm amazed Tim was actually able to keep a straight face!

    This 'policy' is so farcical it would be offensive, if one could actually experience offence from a small plastic turd.*

    But, as others have pointed out, the election will have nothing to do with policy - just a chance for the electorate to vent a little bile and cut off our collective nose in spite of their face.

    * I was refering to the policy here, not the shadow environment minister.

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    1. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      i suppose the bile has been carefully nurtured over the past few years through the engagement of Tea Party tactics employed by the Opposition.

      Sadly, a lot of people think no further than the tip of their noses.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      It's pretty depressing, isn't it, Robert?

      I mean, the Labor Party have their problems and, though I remain a member, I can't say that the Greens have been faultless or all-wise. But the fact remains that this has been a reasonable enough government overall. Our economy is in rude health. Unemployment remains low - likely to rise a little this year, but not severely. Cost of living is rising (though I gather that, for all that, wages have generally kept a bit ahead of inflation for quite a few years - though you wouldn't want to be on the dole!).

      The imperfect-but-at-least-it's-a-start carbon price policy is in place - anything but the python threatened and apparently having at least some impact.

      And everyone is running around bleating about chaos? We should offer free return air tickets to Syria to everyone in a marginal electorate - just to give them a chance to understand what chaos really looks like.

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  8. Miriam O'Brien

    Consultant

    Thank you for this analysis, Tim.

    It would appear that the Direct Action plan is not feasible for agriculture nor for forestry and in any form is not likely to get the nod at the international level. So the Coalition will need to come up with a hard plan quickly if they are to achieve an internationally accepted 5% reduction by 2020.

    The only reference to the DAP in the latest Coalition Plan is buried on page 45 of their 50 page document. This election they seem to have watered down Direct…

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    1. Tim Lubcke

      Research Officer at Monash University

      In reply to Miriam O'Brien

      If the green army is paid, surely, like the direct action plan, this would not come at extra cost to the taxpayer (while 15 000 nurses and teachers are laid off...?)

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    2. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to Miriam O'Brien

      At the last election they promised that the average wage of a Green Army ... er .... trooper ..... would be $50,000.

      They intend to pay for this through ..... wait for it ...... "spending cuts".

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    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Miriam O'Brien

      "How the Coalition hopes to attain their expressed target of 5% reduction within seven years ... is anyone's guess". Ah, but there's the point: they don't hope to do any such thing. They hope to be elected to power, after which they will "discover" that any abatement scheme is too expensive to implement right now, as it would "harm the economy". Their magic-pudding belief in eternal economic growth, at all costs, powers every waking thought of the coal-ition policy makers. Frightening, isn't it?

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    4. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Another display of your ideological bias. That's why you are one of the CAGW alarmists. its because of your ideological beliefs, not because you've thought it through.

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  9. Sean Manning

    Physicist

    I'm looking forward to their next direct action plan.
    Tell everyone to hold their breath for 10s of every minute. Each breath is about 0.5L and about 4% is converted into CO2. So in a year that would equal a saving of 105,000 L of carbon dioxide per person. If every Australian works together we can stop 2x10^12 L of CO2 entering the atmosphere!

    Come on people! Do your bit!

    *Disclaimer: I am taking the piss.

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  10. Christopher Webber

    IT Guy

    "Direct Inaction Plan" would be a better name for it. To me it looks like a smoke screen designed to make it look like they are doing something about the very real problems of climate change when in fact they don't really believe it is necessary to do anything and are using it as an excuse to give money to farmers and big business.

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  11. Tom Fairman

    PhD Student at University of Melbourne

    Great article, Tim - neat little bit of analysis.

    Let's not also forget that plantations of blue and shining gum are susceptible to bushfire, and (as far as I'm aware) how the Coalition would account for the risk of your carbon banks going up in flames has not been addressed. Not that you'd expect them to - the Direct Action Policy isn't a policy, but merely a device to cloak the fact the Coalition doesn't have a climate change policy!

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    1. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Tom Fairman

      Tom Fairman,

      >"the fact the Coalition doesn't have a climate change policy!"

      The Coalition's policy is clear to me:

      1. Dump the carbon tax and ETS
      2. Stop the waste
      3. Cap tax payer subsidies at $3.6 billion
      4. Actively and responsibly engage with the world's major emitting nations to develop a pragmatic global solution to address AGW and other risks - don't try to fool ourselves that we are a major player or that we can lead the world by example.

      It's perfectly clear, rational and responsible, IMO.

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    2. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Peter Lang

      @ Peter Lang - Australia extracts 1/16th of worlds coal and a pretty decent whack of methane too, but somehow nobody ever counts those emissions - is that because the profits go to foreign investors?

      The LNP 'pick a winner' scheme will work perfectly - to reward LNP donors and electorates.

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    3. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Liam J

      Liam J,

      Australia is not amongst the top emitters, not even on a per capita basis when you include the embodied emissions in imports and exports (as must be done to compare on a proper basis).

      These countries are responsible for 75% of global GHG emissions - note Australia is not amongst them: EU, USA, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Africa.

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Is '75%' a magic cut-off number, like '17 years'?

      How big do you have to be to qualify for having to take adult responsibility? I'm on the short side myself. Does that mean I don't have to pay the same tax rate as taller people?

      Nobody is asking Australia to take responsibility for MORE than its fair share, just FOR our share. By your 'reasoning' everyone can cop out of taking responsibility as there is no single country that produces more than a minority percentage of the world's total emissions, not even China or the US.

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    5. Tom Fairman

      PhD Student at University of Melbourne

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, what you've listed there isn't policy. The first three points are defined by doing the opposite of the ALP and the latter point is incredibly vague, and as far from "clear" you can get. "Our policy is to engage" - ok, good. And what if the outcome of that vague engagement is the suggestion to use a market-based mechanism to reduce domestic emissions? And as for "pragmatic global solutions" - hasn't that been the point of every COP since 1992?

      In the words of Turnbull back in 2009 - " The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is "crap" and you don't need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing."

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    6. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Tom Fairman

      Your first few points are just silly.

      >"And as for "pragmatic global solutions" - hasn't that been the point of every COP since 1992?"

      Clearly, the answer to your question is NO! Every COP since 1992 has not debated pragmatic solutions. The delegates have advocated the Left's ideologically driven drivel. That's why they've failed. Had they been pragmatic they would have realised from the outset that top-down, command and control, legally binding agreements with penalties for failing to meet commitments, will never succeed.

      You may also be interested to know that the rate of decarbonisation of the global economy has slowed from about 2% p.a. 0.7% from 1990 to 2007 (See Figure 2 here: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/decelerating-decarbonization-of-global.html ). So, certainly, 20 years of failed COPs does not suggest they have been advocating pragmatic solutions. They've been advocating socialism. And they've failed.

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    7. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Peter Lang

      @ Peter Lang - what nonsense, Australians are very high polluters by any measure, your number games fool no-one.

      "While Australia accounts for less than 2% of global emissions of carbon dioxide, its per person emissions are nearly twice that of many other OECD countries (OECD, 2009)" cited in ABS 1370.0, and thats not counting fossil fuel exports.

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    8. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Peter Lang

      "4. Actively and responsibly ... develop a pragmatic global solution to address AGW". But, Peter, that would mean admitting that AGW is a real and present danger. Isn't that an insurmountable problem for the coal-ition?

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    9. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Personally, I don't care about OUR Share. It is morally right and perfectly feasible to reduce our carbon footprint, just because it is the correct thing to do. How I wish this subject would stop being turned into a solely political discussion.

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    10. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Michael Hay

      If you didn't want to turn it into a political discussion you wouldn't use pejorative terms like "denier". And you wouldn't be arguing for irrational policies. It is clear from what you write that your motivation is entirely political in support of the Left and far Left political parties, as are most of the comments on The Conversation.

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    11. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Michael Hay

      >" It is morally right and perfectly feasible to reduce our carbon footprint, just because it is the correct thing to do."

      I am interested to know how you decide what is morally right? How do you compare wasting trillions of dollars on policies that will give no benefit with the fatalities, poverty, shorter life expectancy, reduced human well being etc that would be avoided if we do not waste that money on irrational schemes like CO2 tax, ETS and renewable energy.

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    12. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Michael Hay

      It was ALWAYS political Michael ... not the science or the scientists - but the likes of Lang here and the rest of the conspiracy theorists. They just won't have it. It's the reds, the IPCC, the UN, the anarchists, the Russians ... someone is doing this to them. Not party political either (pre-Abbott the coalition was quite OK with AGW) but the likes of this bloke are deeply socially conservative - something we've never seen much of here - The Ugly Right.

      They consist almost totally of old…

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    13. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Morality as well as individual thinking - they are pretty rare in our political world. But I shall not stop being an individual in spite of exhortations to justify everything I think of in terms of economic rationalism. There is room for intelligent debate and I do not think that unthinking conservatisn is necessarily the answer to our collective problems. Thinking outside the square is no bad thing.!

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    14. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Its not a present danger and we have no idea if its a future danger because the important parameters are highly uncertain.

      1. Climate sensitivity is highly uncertain and the uncertainty has hardly changed in 20 years
      2. We have next to no idea about the damage function. If we don't know it, how can we say AGW is dangerous. We cant. But if you are of the ideological Left you would recognise that. In fact you wouldn't know because you believe only what is written on the CAGW alarmist sites.

      3. We have done little work on the decarbonisation rate function. Worse still decarbonisation is blocked by the so called 'Progressives' The 'Progressives' have been blocking progress for decades and still are.

      4. The 'Progressives' have been pushing for GHG mitigation policies that have no chance of succeeding. They continue to do so. Bashing their heads against the wall of reality. Slow learners the loony Left ideologues.

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    15. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Sorry for repeat post. I posted this response in the wrong place

      AGW is not a present danger and we have no idea whether or not it may be a future danger because the important input parameters are highly uncertain.

      1. Climate sensitivity is highly uncertain and the uncertainty has hardly changed in 20 years.

      2. We have next to no idea about the damage function. If we don't know it, how can we say AGW is dangerous. We cant. But if you are of the ideological Left you would recognise…

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    16. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to Peter Lang

      It's a bit silly boiling the debate down to "left" and "right".

      Physics doesn't care who you vote for. It's only when you start to think about how you deal with the problem that politics comes in to it.

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    17. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Andrew Vincent

      >"It's only when you start to think about how you deal with the problem that politics comes in to it."

      But isn't "dealing with the problem" exactly what we are interested in? If not why are we wasting do much money on climate research and policies to control the climate?

      And the issue is that there are economically rational solutions. But they are blocked by the so called 'Progressives". 'Progressives' have been blocking progress for 50 years. Many of them, especially the Greens, want us to stop progress and regress instead.

      So, if you want to talk about climate change, and how to deal with it, you can't avoid facing up to the fact that the 'Progressives (i.e. the Left) have been the thrombosis in the arteries of progress.

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    18. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      What is the postured pandering to political correctness here Peter Lang? You know that there is no problem. No risk. It is all lies and, in the sciency words of Tony Abbott, "crap". None of it is true.

      So who cares if direction action "works"? That's it's main attraction innit - it's designed not to. A non-answer to a non-problem. And it'll be cheap. Once we've worked out who's up for a handout and who isn't.

      You've always known - from day one - when you first heard those sinister anitials IPCC that this entire CO2 terror campaign is a red green stripey sort of conspiracy. It was all those new-fangled decimalised units that gave them away.

      The obvious objective is one-world guvvermint and the dictatorship of TV weathermen.

      Folks you have been warned - if not warmed.

      That national security hotline number: 1800 1234 00. Ask for Cheryl. Tell them Peter Lang sent you. They have a full time customer service operator dedicated just to him.

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  12. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    The title asks the question "Will the Opposition’s Direct Action Plan work?"

    Shouldn't we have asked and still be asking:

    1. Will the Government's carbon tax and ETS work?

    2. What will be the costs of the carbon pricing scheme?

    3. What are the likely benefits (in terms of changes to the climate)? What is the probability the benefits will be achieved?

    These are the questions any responsible and competent government should have asked and been able to answer with confidence before…

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      If only this incompetent, blundering, woman-dominated government had asked you Pete... if only anyone at all had asked you!!! The fools!

      Do you old geologists study lithomancy* as part of your undergrad ticket or is it a post grad offering?

      Masters of the past - masters of the future ... there's just no end to the insight. Just the present we have trouble with isn't it?

      Makes one wonder why we Australians employ public servants like economists, analysts and the like - and get all that useless wrong advice from folks like Garnaut when all we really need is a couple of old retired geologists and a pile their special magic pebbles.

      * Fortune telling by throwing rocks

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    2. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Do you have a PhD in trolling?

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    3. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Ah the bellowing of modern dinosaurs trapped in the tarpit ... "dog whistle" "troll".

      I'll leave you alone in the shed there if you can ever provide any evidence or data to back up your amazing predictions Pete ... at least show us the magic stones.

      Hey - didn't composting dinosaurs give us fossil fuels? Now we just have to wait.

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    4. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to Peter Lang

      That question has been asked elsewhere. HERE we are discussing the Coalition's policy. And as an Alternative government, wanting to bring in this policy we would be irresponsible NOT to ask:

      1. Will the Coalition's Direct Action Plan work?

      2. What will be the costs of the Direct Action Plan?

      3. What are the likely benefits (in terms of changes to the climate)? What is the probability the benefits will be achieved? Particularly given it's CO2 reduction goals are the same as the Govt's ETS/CT.

      And I have a supplimantary question:

      4 - Given the Coalition are constsntly banging on about the futileness of reducing our nations emissions by 5%, Why is there policy striving to achieve exactly the same thing?

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    5. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Andrew Vincent

      Andrew Vincent,

      >"That question has been asked elsewhere."

      Can you tell me where my questions are answered?

      To save you telling obfuscating by saying Treasury has done the modelling, I do know what Treasury has done as I critiqued here:
      http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/

      And it is clear the carbon pricing almost certainly cannot succeed for reason explained here:
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=1325#82373

      And on last weeks thread on The Conversation.

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    6. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Andrew Vincent

      In case you and other readers missed this:

      Carbon pricing is highly unlikely to succeed in the real world.

      The Labor-Green government has implemented carbon pricing in Australia. This is bad policy. It will not survive, not just because the LNP Coalition will repeal the legislation (rightly, IMO), but more importantly because the world is most unlikely to implement carbon pricing. Nor should it, for many reasons. Here are two (of many):

      1. We have no idea of the ‘damage function’ (the…

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    7. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Dude, you resorted to the argument - Unless the rest of the world...

      Yeah, we get it, by itself Australia cannot save the world but this applies to both the DAP and the Tax right? this isnt a slight against the Carbon Tax this is a slight against world governments

      So if we take that little spanner out of the works and focus on what we in Australia can do, the DAP shows no benefit at all where as the Carbon Price will force industry to change (Assuming they raise it back to where we started)

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    8. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Peter Lang

      This article is about the DAP - insulting the carbon tax is not an argument for DAP

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    9. Tim Lubcke

      Research Officer at Monash University

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Why not, Peter, criticise the analysis for not looking at what climate change mitigation they are doing in France, or not doing in the US... How about Albania? Bait and switch is an easy alternative to a valid critique.

      If you had cared to actually look at the article about or the linked to analysis, you would see that I'm looking at the fact that the Coalition are doing very well in the polls and the Direct Action Plan is their policy for climate change mitigation. Hence, would it be viable…

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    10. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Just curious Peter. Do you read the news, and did you see the report about how China is going to introduce a carbon tax?

      If so, does this evidence change your opinion that we should not do so because others are not? And could you enlighten us all on if you think the Chinese tax is doomed to fail or not?

      Cheers

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    11. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Would you be willing to act as Peter Ormonde's supervisor if he decided to do a PhD in Trolling?

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    12. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, firstly, there is a distinction between a question being asked and a question being answered, though you conveniently, and rather typically, blur the two.

      But then you go on to tell us where your question is 'answered', which kind of makes the initial question rhetorical, doesn't it (another distinction that seems to escape you).

      Which makes your whole response to Andrew pointless and irrelevant.

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    13. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Tim Lubcke

      Tim Lubcke,

      I suggest it is you that has employed ‘bate and switch’ in an attempt to divert focus from what should be analysed properly first – i.e. the government’s policy. TC is continually using ‘bate and switch’. TC editors (by their selection oaf articles and authors), the authors and most commenters (and the trolls) do it continually. It is the continual focus on trying to promote and praise Labor and Green policies and denigrate Opposition policy that is the problem.

      Neither your…

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    14. Andrew Vincent

      Marketing . Communications . Multimedia

      In reply to Peter Lang

      I'm not saying your questions are not valid. I'm saying this is not the place to ask them. It is important that we scrutinise both policies - and given the Direct Action plan is the one proposed by the likely next government, it's critical we know what we are implementing.

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    15. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Andrew Vincent

      >"It is important that we scrutinise both policies - and given the Direct Action plan is the one proposed by the likely next government, it's critical we know what we are implementing."

      True. But scrutiny of the alternative policy has to be done in proper context. Therefore, we must scrutinise the governments policy thoroughly first and properly understand its impacts. Once we've done that, then we can consider the alternative policy in proper context.

      When we scrutinise the governments…

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    16. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Lang

      "The Coalition’s policy is clearly far better ..."

      This comment is definitely a keeper Peter.

      For years you have pimped yourself as the great guru of costing (actually rubbishing) renewable energy because Barry Brook was foolish enough to provide you a platform on his pro nuclear blog.

      As many people have pointed out, your figures were fraudulent (always inflated against renewables and in favour of fossil fuels or nuclear) and based on your violent opposition to climate science. (How many times did Brook ban you from his blog?)

      Almost everyone familiar with the climate debate in Australia including those on the LNP side know that the the "direct action" policy is not a serious carbon mitigation policy. Why do you think the climate cranks support it?

      Here is the evidence that all your bloviating is really just barracking for the anti-climate science position of the LNP.

      The researchers at Beyond Zero Emissions were correct to not take you seriously.

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    17. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike surely no one takes this bloke seriously.

      I had a scan of his costsing to see where he's clipped then from asnd my screen lit up like Las Vegas ... maybe 20-30 different blog sites from Judith Curry through to Tony Watts and down to Jo Nova ... all posted by Mr Lang here as a comment not an article.

      I even found a few folks who'd clipped the piece and published sections on other b;logs under their own names. No honour amongst climate change deniers then.

      The real sad thing is to see the wonderful interweb being subborned into a vanity publishing venture for old blokes in their sheds with an axe to grind.

      Thanks for the history. Banned by Barry Brook!!!! Strewth.

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    18. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael: There was a sort of plan suggested for an ongoing carbon tax which would start at $1.00 per tonne of emissions with no compensation to anyone at all. This level of tax would be doubled in 5 years to $2.00, then in another five to $4.00 and so on until in about 25 years the tax would be some $32.00 per tonne. Polluters would then have ample time to combat the tax by emmission reductions or a re-arrangement of their business.
      I think it would have worked - how about you ?

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    19. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Yeah it oculd work but dont be fooled by big business, they are a bunch of cry babies, its never enough, its always too much, they cant afford, etcetera as they take in record profits.

      Most Companies do not think or plan that far in advanced and my expectation would be that instead of planning in advanced and preparing for the 30$ they will jst ignore it until it starts eating into their profits and then they will cry again.

      For instance, BHP cried that the mining tax would make them unprofitable…

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    20. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Michael Hay

      The boffins had a careful look at this tax based approach - has some advantages - simple, efficient and quick. But rather brutal. Tends to shut down the highest emitters overnight like cement and steel - especially difficult when there are few immediate substitutes or the product is low value and unable to pass on costs.

      Lots of collateral damage in an energy intensive economy ... inflation in particular - like adding another say 50% onto the GST. Likely to knock the economy into a coma…

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    21. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Michael Shand

      "we have already polluted enough to trigger run away warming" is a bit over the top, Michael. Runaway warming, such as has occurred on Venus, means the temperature will just keep rising until the seas are boiled dry and that is not a realistic danger we face. It is true that we are committed to more warming and this means more water vapour, which itself adds to warming, but the warming is limited. Perhaps, if we burned every last scrap of fossil carbon on Earth, we might create a runaway (according to some sources), but that is not a realistic scenario. Having said that, the results of the warming we are committed to will be bad enough.

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    22. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      I'm sure those Venusians thought the same thing Doug.

      Don't bank on it actually. If we do enough damage to get that methane off and running under the tundra Venus could look like a soft option.

      That's not to say it is happening or even will happen, but it could. And the possibility is more than enough for me.

      Bloody big dice we're rolling here.

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    23. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I agree that Nature might chip in its own sources of GHGs, in response to global warming (eg Tundra thaw, methane clathrates), or unrelated (eg the eruption of a super volcano). Enough GHGs in the atmosphere could cause runaway warming, turning Earth into something like Venus. My point is that such a scenario is currently unlikely, with our current level of knowledge. It is certainly an alarming prospect, however, one which we should work strenuously to avoid. As you say, we are rolling big dice and doing so without understanding all the rules of the game.

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    24. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Actually mate, we have warmed it enough to start the melting of the permafrost

      This alone is going to release extreme amounts of methane and CO2

      I'm not exagerating, I know it seems extreme but oyu have to understand that if we stop CO2 emmissions tomorrow it will be hundreds of years of warming still to come.

      Yes it will eventually balance out but not for a very very long time.

      "2052 A future Forecast" is a good read if your interested or I can send you some of the papers on this which…

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    25. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      >” Having said that, the results of the warming we are committed to will be bad enough.”

      How do you know that? We have little idea of what the damage function is. You, your self hadn’t even heard of it up until a month or two ago. Then you broke off discussion when you realised you had not a clue what you were talking about. You continued to obfuscate and try to change the topic through seventeen comments, then broke of discussion without acknowledging that a) you didn’t have a clue about the subject (having begun with an arrogant attitude that you knew all about it and were setting out to try to educate me) or b) acknowledging the key issue that little has been done on the damage function and it is highly uncertain.

      I would add that the estimates we do have seem to be exaggerated to the high side. But there is no point in discussing that with someone who isn’t even aware of the matter and hasn’t tried to learn about it.

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    26. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Peter Lang

      I dont think you understand what we are going to face in the next few decades, it is going to become apparently obvious that there is a problem and although we wont know whether its going to be;

      Really bad

      or

      Catastrophic

      Do we need to know the specifics? or can we just act to mitigate it

      What are you suggesting the issue is with this Damage Function?

      That we dont know exactly how bad it will be therefor we shouldnt do anything?

      or are you suggesting that because we dont know how bad it will get that we should act slowly?

      or are you suggesting that we dont act at all?

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    27. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Michael Shand

      "we have already polluted enough to trigger run away warming"

      I don't like it when anyone throws around the term "run away warming" because it has a precise technical meaning and under the present circumstances on earth it is not going to happen. As far as I can recall the surface ocean temperature needs to be in excess of 60 deg C for runaway feedback to occur, i.e. for the feedback factor, f, to be one or more in the equation for climate sensitivity, S:

      S(with feedback) = S(without feedback)/(1-f)

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    28. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Michael Shand

      "the tabbacco companies acted or failed to act for years and spread doubt - the oil and carbon intensive industries are exactly the same"

      And they're using the same people to do the job of doubt-spreading.

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    29. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I don't think that your attitude to Big Business is sufficient excuse for not taking them on. They can threaten to leave or shut down their operations, but they won't - it is already too lucrative.
      I am sure that $1.00 per tonne for 5 years will not even be noticed.

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    30. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Thanks, Peter. Of course it would work, but not in our Federal Parliament - unfortunately.

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    31. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Peter; I get tangled up with the multitude of noughts, but it seems that if one divides the $11.5 billion by the $26 in Garnaut's report, then a $1.00 tax on carbon equivalent would raise about $4.5 million - enough to survey the appropriate parts of northern Oz to find where water storages could be best located.

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    32. Miles Ruhl

      Thinker

      In reply to Peter Lang

      For Pete's sake it's "BAIT and switch" Peter! Good god, if you can't even get a siomple phrase like that correct how on earth is anyone meant to take anything you say with much more than a grain of salt? Are you actually affiliated with the LNP? It sounds like you have borrowed Jo-Jo's talking points.

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    33. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Im not suggesting backing down from them - im suggesting that goign easy on them with "A lil bit here for five years and then a lil bit more" is unnessacry.

      I agree, they wont leave but there is no need to treat em nice

      instead of introducing it at $1 and incrementing over the years - let us introduce at $30 and increment over the years

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    34. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Okay so your uncomfortable with the way I use the term run away warming, thats fine, I still stand by my point which was that the warming is going to continue regardless of what we do for hundreds of years and humans are not likely to survive

      What would you call this? where due to the CO2 we have already released it is going to be increasingly getting warmer for hundreds of years, most likely past the point where the human body can tolerate

      What term would you use for this situation? it may not be venus but its warming at a pace that we cant keep up, it is running out of our control

      what is this called?

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    35. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Michael Shand

      "it may not be Venus but it's warming at a pace that we cant keep up, it is running out of our control. What is this called?" 'Dangerous' is one term that comes to mind. So is 'out of control'. So is 'suicidal', if you want to be extreme.

      One thing it is not, though, is 'runaway'. Unless more carbon is released than we currently anticipate is likely, the warming will continue until the planet's energy budget is in balance and there it will stop. Whether we will enjoy the new conditions is irrelevant. My pick is we won't, but Nature does not care and Nature bats last.

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    36. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug Hutcheson,

      How do you separate your beliefs from known, provable facts or high probability events?

      What is your evidence that AGW is:

      Dangerous?

      'suicidal'?

      1. What is the damage function (i.e. the net damage costs per degree of warming)?

      2. What is the likely net benefits-damages by 2050 and 2100?

      3. How do you know?

      4. What is the probability that the proposed solution (global carbon pricing) will be implemented?

      5. What is the probability that if it is implemented…

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    37. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Good point, but whether we enjoy the new conditions is not irrelevent to me, in fact thats all I care about. I have no interest in whether the Earth survives after us, im sure it will. I dont care, after I'm dead it doesnt matter, all that does matter, really the only thing that can matter is whether we will be able to survive in these new conditions - if you dont care about that then I dont know what you can care about

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    38. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter Lang, you ask "1. What is the damage function (i.e. the net damage costs per degree of warming)?". The damages function is an economics question. I am pleased to see that you have moved on from denying that global warming is happening and now want to know how much it is going to cost, but I am not an economist, so I am not qualified to select the most appropriate damages function. One discussion of this is in "Weitzman M. What is the "Damages Function‟ for Global Warming – and What Difference…

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    39. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael, as you are in the workforce, I assume your age is less than 65. It is likely you will see unmistakeable changes in the climate during your lifetime, but it is not likely to be a survival issue for you. Survival is going to be mainly an issue for our descendants. I care that my descendants may have to battle conditions outside our species' evolutionary envelope, but I don't think it will be a major challenge for our own generations. We are sending a bill to our great-grandchildren.

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    40. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug Hutcheson,

      Thank you for your response.

      You say “I am more interested in the science than the economics, but realise dealing with AGW will be an economic/political issue.”

      If you are not concerned about the economic impacts of the policies you support and the ones you criticise you should stay right out of advocating any policies. Stick to the science. Your views on policy are uninformed. They are worse than uninformed, they are dangerous because you advocate for certain policies…

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    41. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter Lang, I responded to your earlier comment out of courtesy and to help others who may be reading the thread, not to change your mind. You follow up by misrepresenting what I said (I did not say I was 'not concerned about the economic impacts of the policies', I said I was more interested in the science) and attacking my understanding of the issues. If you will not read the link I gave you to the science-based web site Skeptical Science and stridently claim it is a religious site, you will not learn anything outside your own echo chamber. It is a shame. You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

      As you have shown no interest in learning anything outside your comfort zone, it is futile discussing the science with you. I shall in future follow my original instinct, which was 'do not feed the troll'.

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    42. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      I agree, it wont be survival for everyone, like the rich and privilaged in society such as myself will be fine.

      I work in Utilities and what I can see will happen in my lifetime is this, heatwave of multiple days in the mid to high 30's combind with rolling blackouts due to fire danger and load balancing - I look at what happened in france a decade ago where many elderly in nursing homes passed away from heat exhaustion. I think about the bush fire risks ever increasing and the impact this weather…

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    43. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Peter Lang

      "not ideological agenda’s driven by Left doomsayers." - yes, its "The Other" side that are basing everything on propaghanda, stereotypes and narrow self interest, yes its the other side, not you of course

      do you realise the irony of what your saying? this is usually catagorised as projection

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    44. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      By the way, if you have some good sources that you think are reliable that show a different projection of the next 40 years I would love to read it. I am open to being wrong about these things obviously and I really hope I am but try as I might and read as much as I can it doesnt look pretty and when I look at how long we have known about this, how we understand the problem and how we have viable solutions needed already at commercial scale and then think about what we have done as a society with this knowledge, well, its depressing

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    45. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael, I agree in principle with your projection. It is impossible to say with certainty what will happen in a warmer world, but all of what you say is eminently possible. I expect to see some really bad effects before I fall off the perch. My ability to adapt is limited: indeed, my form of adaptation may well be to succumb to a super heat-wave, or to be washed out to sea in a nasty flood.

      I fully concur that 'what we will see will be horrific'. Wealth alone will not be enough to ensure adaptability, much to the chagrin of our super-wealthy citizens.

      Will the last words ever spoken be 'I told you so'?

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    46. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      lol, "Last words ever spoken be "I told you so?" I'm not sure about anyone else but mine certainly will be, once it is abundantly clear what is happening I have a list of people that deserve a swift kick in the crotch and as long as I get that done, I'll be happy

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    47. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug Hutcheson,

      You accuse me of representing you. I didn't intend to and don't think I did. I quoted you exactly.

      However, you misrepresented what I'd said in this comment an previous comment. If I tried to point out each time I am misrepresented on sites like this, I'd never write anything else. I try not to misrepresent. I suggest your claim is just a distraction.

      By the way, you make may assumptions but don't even attempt to check them before making assertions.

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    48. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      You show that you know nothing about economics and are interested in the science arguments not the economics. I accept that is the case. But to inform policy or have an opinion on policy need more than just science. You have to take into account the other risk facing mankind (including the risks of bad economic policies).

      This may help:

      Even if climate sensitivity is high, if the damage function is low there is no major threat. So we have to understand the damage function. The science…

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    49. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Woops, correction: "misrepresenting"

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    50. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Nobody, except the Greens politicians are going to accept such a sledge-hammer approach. Cannot there be a reasonable introduction to this punitive tax. I do not agree that all businessmen are ogres and must therefore be treated with crass suspicion?.

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    51. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Hay

      I think its important to make the distinction between individual women and men that work in corporations and the corporations themselves. For instance, a CEO may not want to do action B, but if he doesnt the board will replace him with someone who will do action B - problem solved. So when we hear Multinational corporation crying about the carbon tax or the mining tax or regulation or anything that may get in the way of them making money - its the tears of the board and shareholders. Its the vested…

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    52. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Hay

      ". I do not agree that all businessmen are ogres and must therefore be treated with crass suspicion?. " - You should read George Orwell's '1984'

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    53. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      In my book, reasonable equates to conclusions based on reason. One must find the median point between your sledgehammer approach and the thing you despise most - the action of doing nothing. In between is a point where all parties can concede that anything else is abhorrent and that the "reasonable"solution is the lesser of all other evils.
      No-one can dictate - that just causes wars and financial disasters. So I continue to promote "reasonableness".

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    54. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Look, you are 100% correct, so as soon as you get Multinational Corporations such as Coke, Mining Companies and Oil Companies to be reasonable - you give me a call

      Look at the tabbacco companies as a great example - no matter what you do they will cry, lie and attempt to discredit anything that might interfere with their ability to make profit

      How reasonable was coke when it came to a pretty mundane recycling scheme in NT? - this is what you are up against

      I agree we need to be reasonable…

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  13. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    The Direct Action Plan I would like to see is Climate Change Enthusiasts start their own direct action by no longer choosing to burn JetA1 fuel to fly to Europe for holidays.

    Many will roll their eyes and mock my comment, but nobody on The Conversation has thus far offered an ethical b basis for publicly calling for governments and others to cut fossil fuel usage and then choosing to burn JetA1 for one's own pleasure.

    Let's see some Direct Action. Let's see you all stay in Australia for your holidays.

    Gerard Dean

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    1. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard Dean,

      Why not start by banning cars and electricity?

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    2. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      "Let's see some Direct Action. Let's see you all stay in Australia for your holidays." - Maybe take a look at what is actually contributing the most to CO2 and then you might realise how asinine your comment is

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  14. Chris O'Neill

    Retired Way Before 70

    "While the Direct Action Plan outline has been removed from the Coalition website,"

    Yes, that's interesting. The way things are going, not too many people are going to care if they forget about it completely. Which was the plan all along.

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  15. trevor prowse

    retired farmer

    Will the Coalition's direct action plan work is the question?----The short answer is" NO". The plan is to reduce the co2 by a total of 5% OF THE 2000 level by 2020. That is the same as the Labor governments plan. The forecasts of the Labor governments plans are for an effective increase in co2 , so in effect , the only benifit is that farmers costs will grow to the extent that a lot of land that is marginal now will become a vast area of weeds, with no hope of being looked after.
    The Coalitions…

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  16. Trevor McGrath

    uneducated twit

    Of course it cannot work.... the answer appears simple to me. Perhaps our resident Retired geologist and engineer and tell us how may trees or tonnes of vegetation it takes to make a ton of coal.... multiply that by the amount of coal dug up each year by the tonnage of green matter to be added to the soil each year and left there from now on plus the amount to make up for the coal dug since say 1950.

    "In 2011, Australia’s thermal coal exports grew by four %, relative to 2010, to total 148 million…

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    1. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Trevor McGrath

      Nobody has seen -any- maths from the LNP in many years, what can you expect from a plague of lawyers.

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  17. Gary Murphy

    Independent Thinker

    Well - it might work if they decide to spend money on it. That is the fundamental problem with it - it relies on politicians coming up with money to spend on it. And with the 'liberals' heavy denier influences this probably won't happen.

    If you put a price on emissions then the private sector goes to work reducing emissions - no politicians' promises required.

    As has been pointed at many times previously - putting a price on emissions is the most cost-effective way of reducing them. John…

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    1. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      >"Well - it might work if they decide to spend money on it. That is the fundamental problem with it - it relies on politicians coming up with money to spend on it."

      Politicians don't "come up with money". Taxpayers "come up with money". Didn't you know that?

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  18. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "we will have to reduce emissions if we hope to sequester all we create". That's the flaw in the Coalition's approach: there is no recognition that carbon emissions abatement will have to increase over time, until net emissions are zero (or, preferably, negative), to ensure we have a habitable planet in future.

    We need a carbon cap that reduces each year, a cap which is not offset by off-shore carbon credits: if you want to engage in an activity that emits carbon gasses, you must pay an increasing price for the privilege, until the activity becomes uneconomical to continue. An ETS goes some way toward this goal, but the 'Direct Action Plan' does not.

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  19. wilma western

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    Another issue with the coalition's alternative to the ALP's carbon price plan is what will they really do about the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target?They voted for it , Greg Hunt says it's policy but now there are various members of the Coalition saying it should go.

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to wilma western

      "the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target ... there are various members of the Coalition saying it should go". That wouldn't surprise me, but do you have links to any credible reports of this? Would any of the Coalition MPs be dumb enough to go on record contradicting their Dear Leader? (Well, yes, I suppose there are some that dumb [on both sides of the House], but it would be nice to see credible confirmation.)

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    2. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Of course the RET should go. How ridiculous to argue the opposite. It is a government attempt to pick winners. It is very expensive, damages the economy and has no effect on global emissions. It is a "direct action policy" one of the worst examples as are most if not all the other Labor-Greens climate policies. These are what you are complaining about the Coalition doing, but ignoring the fact the Coalition will cap the wastage at $3.6 billion.

      Only economically rational policies will achieve global GHG emissions reductions. That should be clear to anyone by now.

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  20. Greg Johnson

    public servant

    I would like to offer a risk management angle on the subject of climate change.

    While there is a strong scientific consensus on the subject, there are still many sceptics. Let us apply the equation "Risk = Probability x Consequence". Given the science, it hard to say that the probability is negligible; also, the consequences look very great. My conclusion is that the risk is sufficiently great that it is prudent to take significant action to manage the problem or, at least, its consequences…

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    1. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Greg Johnson

      You have not done risk analysis. You are spinning Labor propoganda and doomsday dogma.

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    2. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Greg Johnson

      "This lack of prudence belies the Liberals' claim to be conservative"

      "Conservative" parties are only conservative in a very narrow sense. i.e. their supporters want to keep their economic and social advantages the way they are.

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    3. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Conservative parties could be good for the environment, if they really carry out their plans. Yes I believe that carbon capture in the soil is as Peter Andrews says the answer for greatly improving both local environment and our international contribution.

      My problem is that the Howard Government virtually handed environmental funding over to the private sector, groups of "Stakeholders" which include major agricultural chemical companies.
      The effect has been far more use of herbicide and consequent environmental collapse. The Labor Governments have never dissolved the Howard model, they have fiddled a bit at the edges but the structure which gives chemical companies power to change and twist environmental funding to suit their ends remains.
      Is Tony Abbot going to change this? If so I shall certainly vote for him.
      Alas I very much doubt it.

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  21. Greg Johnson

    public servant

    Well Peter Lang - what is your analyis of the situation?

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