What does CPRSTAXETS stand for? Climate policy. And the future of our climate policy is as complex as the acronyms accruing in its wake. But you’d have to expect complexity when you’re dealing with such an all-encompassing issue. After all, this is about how we live; the impact that has on our planet; and how our children will live as a result.
We’ve got a new PM Kevin Rudd and with him we have a new climate policy offer on the table. His election sweetener has been to offer to unfix the price polluters pay for emitting carbon from $24 a tonne to below $10 a tonne. This leaves unfunded the programs to build the low carbon economy and renewable energy revolution. Householders will potentially be compensated for not having a 10% increase on their 2014 power bills. The government estimates the average earners family power bill will be reduced by up to $400 for that year, if we can trust the electricity business to pass on the reduction in carbon price. Hmmmm?
This latest permutation of election year climate policy threatens a sizeable whole in the budget to the tune of $4 billion. But as we all know the decision is based on the Government’s block and parry of the Coalition’s all round anti-carbon price campaign. Coalition campaign headquarters must be scratching their heads for a rhyme to match the hackneyed ‘Axe the Tax’.
Predicting the likely outcome is just as confusing as the policy titles – Could Mr Rudd recall Parliament and get the Coalition to support the legislation through both houses? Unlikely. How will the electorate decide to tackle carbon emissions? 1. Through a floating price on carbon pollution (which the rest of the world is adopting and we were going to in 2015 under Julia Gillard anyway)? 2. Will Kevin Rudd’s second coming meet with the same backlash (as his first) for backing away from tackling climate change? Or will Mr Abbott’s various positions on climate science see Australia paying polluters to stop and a Green Army of conscript tree planters?
Given modern leaders formulate policy from polling results perhaps we should look in those tea leaves to see our future direction on climate policy. Fairfax pollsters have found that 62 per cent of respondents didn’t want the carbon tax scrapped if doing so would damage government revenue.
Whilst JWS Research says only 37 per cent believed the Coalition should seek to repeal the carbon price if elected. This was down from 48 per cent in May 2012 just before the carbon price came into effect.
But the figure we have to focus on is Austalia’s commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 25% by 2020. I think the people who will inherit the world we leave behind spell that JUSTDOIT!
Tracey Carpenter is President of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network