Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Politics as usual will delivers the CPRS camel

So now it seems that the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, skilfuly crafted by the Labor government to reward the worst polluters with corporate welfare largesse from the taxpayer, and to not reduce emissions until 2020 or later, will now pass through the Senate with Malcolm Turnbull's and the Liberal Opposition's support.

Why? Because Turnbull wants to avoid a double dissolution trigger for an early election he knows he would lose, and because the Liberal Party is equally beholden to the same corporated dirty industry interests that the Labor Party is.

Those who claim that the CPRS needs to go in so "it and the targets can be strengthened later" are either fooling themselves or trying to fool the rest of us.

It it goes in lame due to industry influence - as appears to be the case - it will remain lame.

"Politics as usual" does not have a framework for delivering the paradigm shift we need to embrace a clean energy future.

I am still uncertain as to what will deliver this paradigm shift. I think it needs to a combination of:
  • More direct input from climate sicentists on emission reduction targets
  • Remove the profit motive from polluting carbon intensive industries, perhaps by putting a real and effective price (tax) on carbon instead of a nebulous "trading scheme" full of loopholes
  • Referendums on climate and energy policy - rather than interminable irrelevant debates in parliament and bad policy like the CPRS
  • Set up a bipartisan taskforce on climate change to remove the crippling political and industry interference from policy creation
  • Pressure from a grass roots movement across Australia and the rest of the world to foster policy and process change.
The CPRS bill may be rejected the Senate next week and the final date for a vote delayed by several more months, but the final outcome is clear: The Labor and Liberal parties will eventually vote together to pass the CPRS and lock in failure to reduce emissions in Australia.

1 comment:

Grant said...

We are heading for interesting times over the next year or so.

Anybody who has been involved in project management (and the CPRS is one big project) knows that a project will not be a success unless all stakeholders agree with the objectives. In the case of the CPRS, it appears that no one agrees with either the objectives or the processes being used to reach the defined objectives.

Business have calculated that all their costs will have substantial rises, and they will only have 3 primary ways to reduce their costs:
1. Reduce input costs, probably through staff reductions
2. Pass all cost increases directly through to consumers
3. Move as much as possible off shore to lower energy / input costs countries (ie. India, China etc.)

From the consumer (Mr and Mrs Average), point of view, they see that all their living costs will increase at a time when they are struggling to pay their mortgages or pay rent (remember that all rents will increase as landlords will have additional costs imposed on them, possibly by the forced requirement to insulate rented dwellings). They see that their energy costs (electricity, gas and petrol) will rise substantially, as well as everything they need to pay, from food to their council rates (Councils will also need to recover their cost increases).

From the Governments position, it will cost them billions as business / company taxes reduce, and from hefty increases that will be required through paying subsidies to business (to try to keep them on shore) and from having to give large energy subsidy increases to welfare recipients (pensioners etc). Admittedly they will also make billions income from the CPRS, but I doubt that this will replace the additional payouts. Remember that the Federal Government has just had to put aside $200 mil for GMH to protect around 100k Australian jobs.

From the environmentalists point of view, they are obviously unhappy with the targets set and would like carbon reduction targets to be greatly increased.

As far as I can see, with everybody about to be hit by large cost increases with the CPRS as it appears to stand, I would suggest that all current Governments, both Federal and State, will be in the poo at their next elections. In the case of Victoria, if the coal fired generation is not maintained, and blackouts become regular, the state Government will be history. I also suspect that nobody will be game to run a referendum on a CPRS as no referendum appears to get a positive result unless all political parties support the desired outcome.

In short, I cannot see that there is any hope that Australia will even reach a 5% reduction, as it is potentially political suicide unless all stakeholders can agree on the targets / objectives and processes to reach them. I would not mind betting that in 2020 we will still be arguing on targets / objectives, and why we did not reach them.