Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Remove $8.9 billion fossil fuel subsidies to combat climate change

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcement that all incandescent light bulbs will be banned in Australia from 2009-10 is a step in the right direction and is long overdue. However, we need to do much more than this.

The real problem is that electricity produced in Australia from fossil fuel such as coal is subsidised to the tune of an astounding $8.9 billion, so it is far too cheap. If these subsidies were removed, and a carbon tax applied to polluting energy producers, then renewable energy would successfully compete and the free market would steer us in the right direction of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This would also provide strong incentives for Australian manufacturers to produce energy efficient appliances that would be competitive in export markets. Australian appliances are lagging global standards on power consumption because electrical power is so cheap in Australia. Currently, if you want a really energy efficient fridge or dishwasher you have to buy one from a European country such as Germany or Sweden.

With renewable energy on a competitive footing, and demand for electricity greatly reduced through the use of more energy efficient appliances, we would avoid building new coal-fired power stations or going down the non-renewable and dangerous nuclear path favoured by John Howard.

It is time for our politicians to display some real leadership on climate change before we reach the looming crisis point.

Overall, this would be cheaper than funding projects across Australia such as building a barrage across the Port Phillip Bay Heads to stop rising seawater levels flooding Melbourne’s bayside regions.

Some further information:


Anonymous said...

Hello Peter,

You could do better than to accept a WWF report that used selective and misleading figures in relation to Hazelwood. WWF's intention was to smear the business during its EES process on accessing its own coal field. Do some research Peter although you won't like the truth.

Peter Campbell said...

Thanks for your comment. I was not citing the WWF report, the most significant reference is the Subsidies that Encourage Fossil Fuel Use in Australia, Institute for Sustainable Futures . You can download the report here.

I think fossil fuel subisidies and lack of action on climate change are scandals of the century. The Howard government is linked to the fossil fuel industries (e.g. by donations and share holdings) while Labor won't do anything they think will impact their coal mining Union affiliates. Both won't move much on this issue until there is widespread political activity at a grass roots level, which is happening with the formation of numerous local climate change action groups.

Morris Lyda said...

Having read the WWF report, but not the one Peter has sited, I thought WWF was fairly objective. But even if you assume the 8.9 figure is inflated, the Govt. is contributing to the bottom line of mutinational corps. whose toxic & destructive waste will require further tax dollars to reduce, clean-up, and eliminate.

As a tax payer, I would rather see the "Real Unsubsidised Price" for energy (both liquid & electrical) than indirectly reduce the cost of a fossil fuel that someone else is using.

Tax dollars should be spent on health, schools, roads, and elements of life that the community needs - but NOT to industries that demonstrate a lack of awareness of the community's needs.

Consumers should pay the Real Pice for a commodity.