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Australia's Emission Scheme - the joke is on all of us

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by ManlyBacker, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

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    I have to say that the current scheme for reducing Australia's emissions of green house gases sounds like a complete joke. The gist is that it doesn't matter what you do to reduce your "carbon footprint", the gains you make are taken up by losses of someone else.

    Emission impossible: the sad truth
    Ross Gittins
    February 25, 2009

    Permit me to ask you a personal question (as long as you don't ask it back of me): how are you going reducing your carbon footprint?

    There's a host of things you could be doing, from turning off lights and appliances on standby and installing compact fluorescent bulbs, to taking shorter showers, using air-conditioners less or turning thermostats up a little in summer and down a little in winter.

    If you want to get more committed you can install ceiling insulation, a solar hot water system or solar panels. This can be expensive, but the Government may* give you subsidies to encourage you in your good works (*conditions apply).

    Then there's your consumption of fossil fuel for transport. Short of buying a Prius, you can buy any car that's more fuel efficient, use more public transport, ride a bike to work or even walk to the shops.

    I suspect many people are trying to be more carbon aware and do the right thing. And many of those who haven't done much know they should be trying harder. (If you must know, I've bought a much smaller car, am doing better with lights and appliances and walk to work more often. But my use of an air-conditioner is less than exemplary.)

    And remember, every little bit we do to reduce our personal consumption of electricity and petrol helps save the planet from global warming.

    Or does it? I thought I knew a fair bit about Kevin Rudd's proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme, but I've been surprised and disappointed to discover it's impervious to voluntary efforts to reduce our emissions.

    As Dr Richard Dennis, executive director of the Australia Institute, has been tirelessly explaining, nothing we choose to do for moral reasons will do anything to reduce the nation's total emissions of greenhouse gases.

    That's because the nation's total emissions will be controlled by an annually reducing cap, designed to reduce our emissions by 2020 to between 5 per cent and 15 per cent (it's yet to be decided) less than our emissions in 2000.

    And because, left to their own devices, our emissions would continue growing quite strongly, the cap serves not only as an upper limit on our total emissions but also as a lower limit. It's both a ceiling and a floor.

    So when you and I voluntarily cut back our emissions we don't reduce the nation's total emissions, we just make more room for other, industrial polluters - say, the aluminium, steel or cement industries - to increase their emissions.

    If you didn't know that, you could be forgiven. It seems you have a lot of mates. In a poll of 1000 people conducted for the Australia Institute, respondents were asked what effect it would have on Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions "if every household in Australia reduced their electricity use in the future". About 8 per cent weren't sure, but 78 per cent said our total emissions would go down. Only 13 per cent got the right answer, that total emissions would stay the same.

    That's a seriously misinformed electorate - which is why I'm writing this piece. It gives me no joy to further complicate the life of an embattled Government that, in its own heavily compromised way, is trying to do something concrete to reduce climate change.

    The pollies shouldn't be under any doubt that people want to be able to do their bit. More than 87 per cent of respondents agree that "households and individuals should be able to contribute to reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions". Unfortunately, the Government hasn't only failed to ensure people understand the workings of the scheme it's seeking to introduce, it hasn't resisted the temptation to actively mislead people.

    In spruiking the part of his $42 billion stimulus package offering subsidies for ceiling insulation and solar hot water systems, Kevin Rudd claimed that this "energy-efficient homes initiative" could, once fully implemented, "result in reductions of greenhouse gas emissions by 49.9 million tonnes by 2020, or the equivalent of taking 1 million cars off the road".

    As understanding has dawned about this hidden flaw in the trading scheme, the Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, has been quite tricky in her seeming rebuttal. There had been "misunderstanding" of the impact voluntary action by households can have under a cap-and-trade abatement scheme, she wrote in a newspaper article on Monday.

    "Some argue that household action simply frees up carbon pollution permits for others to use," she said.

    "In fact, individual and community action to be more energy efficient not only saves them money, it will contribute directly to Australia meeting our emissions reductions targets.

    "Strong household action also helps make it easier for governments to set even more ambitious targets in the future."

    That statement comes under the heading of literally true, but calculated to mislead. It's true that if you reduce your consumption of petrol or electricity you'll save yourself money.

    It's true only in an arithmetic sense that anything we do "contributes directly" to Australia meeting its emissions target. Everything contributes to the bottom line of the sum. But, because the bottom line is controlled under the scheme, any helpful contribution we might make just leaves more scope for others to make unhelpful contributions.

    When Wong says strong actions on our part help make it easier for governments to set lower emissions targets in future, the future she means is after 2020. As it stands, the only changes governments can make under the scheme are to the "trajectory" or path we travel to get to an unchanged destination level of emissions in 2020.

    Why has the Government constructed its scheme in such a strange, off-putting way, which fact it has then wanted to conceal and obfuscate?

    Because to date it's been more worried about business resistance than public approval.

    Any voluntary effort we make has been presented to businesses as a bonus, reducing the amount of adjustment they have to make (and, note, reducing the amount by which electricity prices will need to rise under the scheme).

    Now its little game has been rumbled, however, the Government will need to modify its scheme to keep faith with the more conscience-stricken among us. Fortunately, that won't be too hard.
     
  2. Zep

    Zep Active Member

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    I am riding 15kms to work everyday for nothing ?

    F U C K you Mr Rudd.
     
  3. Fluffy

    Fluffy Well-Known Member

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    and if the industrial mobs reduce their emisions and you reduce your emisions then there is no floor.

    sounds like another ill only do it if it will benefit me and me only type wanker
     
  4. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

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    I don't read that from Ross Gittens, one of Australia's leading finance journalists, Fluffy. The devil lies in the lack of detail from the Australian Government.  I understand that there needs to be a balance for the affected industries but there appear to be too many exemptions and a lack of incentives to promote industry change. Will they be giving away free permits to industry instead of an established auction process or an offset scheme? Deep down I think the current plan is seriously flawed.

    This is from www.climatechange.gov.au which clearly indicates the the floor is real:

    Step 3: At the end of each year, each liable firm would need to surrender a ‘carbon pollution permit’ for every tonne of emissions that they produced in that year.
    The number of ‘carbon pollution permits’ issued by the Government in each year will be limited to the total carbon cap for the Australian economy.
     
  5. Guest

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    Even if we are reducing our carbon emmisions it is going to do the planet any good if countries like China and India don't decrease theirs?  Our total carbon emmisions must be miniscule compared to these nations.
     
  6. Zep

    Zep Active Member

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    Tookey, it is a 50/50. On one hand they are polluting the world, on the other they are buying coal and natural resources from us.

    But 80 tonnes is better than 100 tonnes if u get my drift. It is get really dyer america will just nuke the world :p
     
  7. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

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    That is true tookey. However it is impossible to put pressure for change on the international community if we have done nothing. It is the same principal when pushing for the removal of capital punishment as an example.
     
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

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    That is true tookey. However it is impossible to put pressure for change on the international community if we have done nothing. It is the same principal when pushing for the removal of capital punishment as an example.
    [/quote]

    Unfortunately a lot of other countries don't care what Australia thinks.  Do you think that Indonesia or Afghanistan is going to take notice if we ask them to cease capital punishment?  Not a chance.

    China would see us as a hipocrit if we sold them millions of tonnes of coal and then told them to reduce their carbon emmisions. 
     
  9. Zep

    Zep Active Member

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    Plus China always has those trillions in US treasury bills to hold over the US.
     
  10. CliffyIsGod

    CliffyIsGod Well-Known Member

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    Global warning = myth.

    End of.
     
  11. Fluffy

    Fluffy Well-Known Member

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    Some very disturbing attitudes shown here

    Certainly no one here wants to lead the way, just follow. Why not move to the US and you can live in the same conditions that Australia will be in within 30 years with attitudes like that.

    To think of all those Aussie diggers that gave a **** fighting for this country and taking the high road for what?
     
  12. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

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    Nice Freudian slip there Cliffy. This coming from someone who believes City could win something one day :)

    We are all entitled to an opinion.  I know a lot about global weather patterns and history clearly shows that the reversal of ocean circulation can happen quickly (as in 20 years or even less) with dramatic results in weather patterns and sea levels. That doesn't mean that the changes we see today are purely driven by industrialisation. The only thing I will say is that higher levels of carbon dioxide does result in warming which affects ocean circulation and sea levels and coincidentally that is what is happening. Anything that can be done to reduce CO2 levels is a positive.
     
  13. Zep

    Zep Active Member

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    People tend to follow those with the Biggest Guns and amounts of Money. Where would the world be without the US? That is something for a great theoretical discussion.

    The point is there is only one or maybe two countries that China and to a lesser extent would take serious note of if pressure was applied. The first being of course the US and the second one the EU (far enough not a country but has equal buying power with the US).

    Of course Australia can say we won't sell coal to the rest of the world, but this is the actually worse for the enviroment as the coal that Australia mines is cleaner than you can get elsewhere
     
  14. Fluffy

    Fluffy Well-Known Member

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    Australia can sell coal at different prices based on their pollution levels - coal plants can vary immensly in emisions and that can be influenced. In Australia alone there are coal plants that produce 2- 3 times more emmsions than others
     
  15. clontaago

    clontaago Well-Known Member

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    Try about $700 Billion out of a total of $3 trillion of foreign holdings.
     
  16. Zep

    Zep Active Member

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    Try about $700 Billion out of a total of $3 trillion of foreign holdings.
    [/quote]

    Really clont? I heard last year it was above 1.1trillion with it increasingly steadily.

    I believe you - Can i have the source of this info?
     
  17. clontaago

    clontaago Well-Known Member

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    US Treasury report from Feb this year
     
  18. Zep

    Zep Active Member

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    never trust Bloomberg; that was my source for this info.
     
  19. clontaago

    clontaago Well-Known Member

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    Interesting to note the Caribbean Banking Centres (Cayman's, Bermuda etc)  hold the 4th highest amount!!
     
  20. The Gronk

    The Gronk Well-Known Member

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    And how many years did you spend studying the relevant science degree to come to such a strong opinion on a very complicated issue?
     

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