Quadrant has outdone itself this time with a forum of views encouraging the Senate over the next week to reject the proposed ETS. It is in the main – not entirely – the same old denialist nonsense – the science is wrong, all due to the sun, the earth is cooling, the earth hasn’t heated over the last decade though CO2 levels have risen, its all too complex, Australia’s contributions to GGEs are small so we should do nothing, the economy will collapse with an ETS, we shouldn’t lead the world, unemployment will increase etc etc. The different authors repeat a core of time-worn fallacies. It is interesting that Quadrant launches a political campaign to defeat the bill when it is primarily a conservative cultural magazine.
I have noticed too other pieces of nonsense in the press. Robert Gottleibsen’s piece in Business Spectator was probably the silliest. Gottleibsen sees the introduction of an ETS in Australia as bankrupting heavily-indebted brown coal power stations and lead to brownouts. The claim is exaggerated. Electrical power for most customers is a non-internationally traded power source so having power stations compelled to charge carbon levies would mean that increased prices could be passed onto customers whose demands are relatively inelastic. Yes we will pay more for electricity. The objective is to get us to economise on carbon-based secondary energy. Talk of brownouts will appeal only to hysterics. The hysterics are raving now over at Catallaxy.
It might be that this asinine piece from Terry McCrann in The Australia beats Gottleibsen for silliness. Ominously to McCrann an ETS “will be the beginning of the end of Australia as we know it” and “Anyone who votes for the ETS next week — or indeed any week — is betraying both common sense and their basic duty to the national interest and every Australian”.
The Senate vote is important and those with views opposing the ETS have the right to represent their viewpoints. The tone of alarmism and the repetition of arguments that have been repeatedly rejected on the basis of sustained arguments without even reference to the opposing views however does make me wonder. There is a viciousness and social irresponsibility to this concerted campaign that ultimately stems from (i) the rejection of the accepted science on climate change and (ii) from the rejection of the well-understood principle that tradeable emissions permits enable a sought level of cleanup to be achieved at minimum cost.
There are details of the ETS I oppose – I would seek firm 25% CO2E cuts by 2020 unconditionally and I would only hand out transitional free permits to those firms in the tradeable goods sector of the economy for whom energy costs comprise more than 5% of total costs. I would also favour more comprehensive border tax measures on imports of any country that does not by 2025 mitigate its emissions comparably to Australia. In 10 years all countries – developing and developed must be cutting their emissions not only restricting their growth.
In addition, we need to think broadly about policy by encouraging innovative carbon-free supply options, developing a nuclear engineering capacity, providing foreign assistance and technology transfer packages. We need a comprehensive energy policy package not only an ETS. But I would, of course, unconditionally support the current proposals in lieu of no ETS at all.