Repeal of the carbon tax is a big mistake, which will destroy the central feature of Australia’s climate policy and lead to continuing uncertainty for business and policy-makers.
We have gone from being a leader to laggard, from ‘lifter’ to ‘leaner’ on climate policy. We have gone from having one of the best climate schemes in the world, to one of the worst.
The government’s plan will not work. They have just abolished a scheme which taxed the polluters and compensated taxpayers, in favour of a plan which will tax the taxpayers and compensate the polluters.
We’ve been paying a very small price to reduce these harmful emissions for a safe climate in future. Celebrating the repeal of the carbon tax is like cheering the enemy.
BCCAN sees climate change as not just a challenge, it’s an opportunity. But it needs the right policies to move it along, including a price on carbon to level the playing field with fossil fuels and assist the transition to the clean technologies of the future.
The government argues that the carbon tax was ineffective and causing ‘enormous damage’ to the economy, both of which are untrue. Let’s call this for what it is – a cynical strategy to get elected, around which the government has built a mountain of misinformation.
Pricing carbon emissions is the most rational way to deal with what is scientifically proven to be seriously damaging pollution. One of the purposes of the tax system is that if you want less of something bad, you tax it to send a price signal to everyone to use less. Levying a price on carbon pollution emitted by power stations has worked well – there has been an 11% fall in pollution from the electricity generation sector since July 2012 when the carbon tax came in.
Australia is one of the dirtiest energy users in the world – more pollution is emitted for the electricity we generate than in other modern economies. In total, Australia’s carbon emissions amounted to 560 million tonnes in 2013 compared with 563 million tonnes in 2011.
Note that electricity generation is only one source of carbon pollution and whilst that sector reduced emissions – other sectors like transport and mining are increasing their pollution – they are not covered by the carbon tax.
Carbon pollution is causing global warming because the natural carbon cycle of the planet is now out of balance due to burning fossil fuels and destroying forests. We are accumulating more carbon than can be re-cycled through natural systems.
This extra carbon, as well as methane and nitrous oxide, is going into the oceans and soils, and into the atmosphere where it is thickening the greenhouse layer which naturally traps heat from the sun. This extra heat is pushing up global temperatures by about 0.3°C per decade at current rates.
This means we are heading for 3°C of global warming by 2070, exceeding the so-called ‘safe’ limit of 2°C and well into dangerous territory for our health, our way of life, food supplies, water security, environment and economy.
Tracey Carpenter is President of Bathurst Climate Action Network