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Category Archives: ETS and Carbon trading

21 Apr, 2012 04:00 AM
Maitland Mercury
 
After spending almost a year visiting Australia’s coal mining communities Sharyn Munro discovered a warzone. She observed what’s really happening at the coalface: towns and districts dying, people hurting, rebelling and ultimately paying the price for the nation’s mining boom.Munro listened to stories of homeowners being forced out of townships, broken in spirit and in health, or else under threat – their lives in limbo as they battle the might of huge mining companies.

This is what she found.

Sharyn Munro is not anti-mining. She is a writer and grandmother with a social conscience wanting to inform the ordinary Australian of what is happening in rural areas.

And she opposes inappropriate development of any sort, driven by the impact of mining she has watched overwhelm parts of the Hunter Valley.

In her latest book Rich Land, Wasteland, Munro presents an impassioned account of the human price individuals and communities are paying for the coal rush.

“I wrote this book to share with Australians what I experienced and learnt,” Munro said. “Most Australians, I believe, are decent people who would be appalled by what is going on if they knew.”

During her research for the book, Munro discovered that incidences of asthma, cancers and heart attacks show alarming spikes in communities close to coal mines and coal power stations.

Once reliable rivers and aquifers are drying up or becoming polluted. Once fertile agricultural land is becoming

unusable and what was once a rich land is becoming a wasteland.

“I am motivated by concern for the health and futures of my grandchildren who have been living in the coalafflicted

Hunter, and for everyone else’s grandchildren who must breathe such polluted air and who face devastated and dewatered landscapes that will be unusable.”

The large, mostly foreign-owned, mining and gas companies continue to push into new areas and Munro observes that our governments continue to help and protect them at the expense of rural communities.

 http://www.maitlandmercury.com.au/news/local/news/general/coal-hard-facts/2529197.aspx

How your happiness can save the world

Thomas Friedman

June 9, 2011

Port KemblaA new ‘happiness model’ of living will reduce environmental degradation and overconsumption to help save the planet, claims a new book.

As a consumer-driven society breaks down, happiness will prevail, writes Thomas Friedman.

You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century – when food and energy prices soared, world population surged, tornadoes ploughed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all – and ask ourselves: what were we thinking?

How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural-resource/population redlines all at once?

”The only answer can be denial,” argues Paul Gilding, the veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, who described this moment in a new book called The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.

”When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait, the bigger the response required.”

Gilding cites the work of the Global Footprint Network, an alliance of scientists which calculates how many ”planet Earths” we need to sustain our growth rates. GFN says we are growing at a rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future.

While in Yemen last year, I saw a tanker delivering water in the capital, Sanaa. Sanaa could be the first big city in the world to run out of water within a decade. That is what happens when one generation in one country lives at 150 per cent of sustainable capacity. ”If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees,” writes Gilding. ”If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer.

”If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.”

It is also current affairs. ”In China’s thousands of years of civilisation, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,” China’s Environment Minister, Zhou Shengxian, said recently.

”The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s economic and social development.”

What China’s minister is telling us, says Gilding, is that ”the Earth is full. We are now using so many resources and putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of limit.”

We will not change systems, without a crisis, but we’re getting there. We’re caught in two loops: One is that population growth and global warming together are pushing up food prices – rising prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, higher food prices, and more instability.

At the same time, improved productivity means fewer people are needed to produce more stuff. If we want to have more jobs, we need more factories. More factories making more stuff make more global warming, and that is where the two loops meet.

As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, Gilding says, ”our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilising as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy in just a few short decades.” We will realise, he predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven model, based on people working less and owning less.

”How many people,” Gilding asks, ”lie on their death bed and say, ‘I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,’ and how many say, ‘I wish I had read more books to my kids, taken more walks?’ To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.”

Sounds utopian? Gilding says he is a realist. ”We are heading for a crisis-driven choice. We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”

The New York Times

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/how-your-happiness-can-save-the-world-20110608-1ft6i.html#ixzz1OjtaumBT

If you were to ask people what they want out of their politicians, most people will say clear and open leadership. The problem for politicians is that that the moment they attempt to provide leadership, the same people will argue any initiative into non-existence. Why? I dunno.

I think there is an argument and it is persuasive (I have presented all over the country on this theme, mostly to senior HR managers, about the new roles for HR managers in a climate change reforming world), that responding to climate change will create jobs, make some jobs and occupations obsolete, and add to the labour market woes confronted by employers. Hopefully we will see the genius of the market system, coupled with government intervention to prompt the development of the right skills, research, innovation and diffusion, and far-sighted employers looking after their medium term interests with their employees and unions, in operation here….

Rant Over. Back to work gerry, you verbose malingerer. No, blogging is not work.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Setting price will create ‘34,000 jobs’
Adam Morton
February 28, 2011

A CARBON price aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2020 could help create 34,000 jobs in regional Australia, research says.

To be launched today by independent MP Tony Windsor, the report by the Climate Institute predicts that a substantial carbon price, backed by renewable energy policies, would trigger tens of billions of dollars of investment in geothermal, large-scale solar, bio-energy, hydro, wind and gas.

In Victoria, the number of people employed in the electricity industry was projected to increase over the next two decades despite some job losses as coal-fired power plants closed.

 The new jobs would be concentrated in the state’s Western District, central highlands and the Mallee.

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said the report, based on work conducted by consultants SKM-MMA and Ernst & Young, showed that clean-energy projects could provide an economic foundation to support strong regional populations.

It challenged claims that tackling climate change would cost jobs and hurt the economy.

“It is important we have a discussion about the costs and how to manage them, but it is also important to look at the benefits and how you achieve those,” Mr Connor said.

Mr Windsor said the report showed regional Australia could be a big winner as renewable energy projects were developed.

It is estimated nearly 6900 new electricity industry jobs could be created in Victoria by 2030.

Nearly 4600 would be in power plant construction and about 1200 in manufacturing. More than 1000 would be permanent roles running new plants.

The total number of jobs in the industry would rise over the next five years as wind and gas plants were built, dip in the second half of the decade, but then grow dramatically after 2020 as more clean-energy technologies became commercially viable.

The report suggests about 40 per cent of Victoria’s electricity could come from clean sources by 2030, up from 5 per cent today.

Gas-fired power, with about a third the emissions of brown coal, would also expand dramatically to provide about a third of the state’s electricity.

Specific projections for Victoria include:

■ More than 1500 jobs created in wind and geothermal energy in the south-west around Warrnambool, Portland and Hamilton.
■ Nearly 1200 new jobs relating to building and running large-scale solar plants in the Mallee.
■ About 600 new jobs in wind in the central highlands around Ballarat and Bendigo.
■ In the Latrobe Valley, the loss of about 500 permanent jobs in coal power, but the creation of 720 construction jobs building new gas and renewable plants.

The modelling does not consider the impact of the possible implementation of carbon capture and storage technology.

The jobs figures are based on a carbon price starting at $47 in 2012, the national 20 per cent renewable energy target, and policies to encourage clean technologies, including loan guarantees and tax credits.

The research won the support of the ACTU and several energy companies.

Tony Maher, the president of the mining and energy union, applauded the Climate Institute for focusing on jobs, skills and training as the key to Australia cutting emissions.

http://www.climateinstitute.org.au

Huh, a misleading heading. Annoying.

Anyway, looks like this will be a rerun of the GST debate, with two issues being sorted out simultaneously.

(1) Do we have the scheme at all? The Coalition currently says no, along with ACCI, predictably. It will be interesting to see how long the Coalition will be able to continue its Policy-free, Say-No-to-All-Change Policy. The Greens and Labor are now on the same page, arguing for a hybrid scheme: carbon tax now, emissions trading scheme later. The scheme is set for a right/left debate, with the middle ground of Australian politics deciding the issue. The ALP, once it has neutralised the short-run dissapproval of Rudd’s backdown and Gillard’s promise not to do it, will at least be able to count on a greater share of the youth vote, and the dissaffected middle-class urban vote that drifted to the Greens after Rudd’s withdrawl from the debate.

(2) What gets covered? Apparently agriculture may not be included. Dunno how much Co2 argriculure emits, but the sector will be a major player when the debate hots up about tax-funded abatement programs (schemes set up up to capture and absorb carbon dioxide, a task where agriculture will be the major player…). The next two sectors to spit the dummy will be the coal industry and the petrol industry. This is the biggest threat to the carbon tax scheme. These two industries account for at least 50% of CO2 emissions. But they directly impact on household costs and living standards. Will Australians accept the medium term pain of a new household cost structure, if it means that the global community can start reducing the amount of CO2 we are pumping into the atmosphere? Or will the major polluters plead, supported by penny-conscious people out there in community, that they cannot afford precidely the competitive pressure that a carbon tax will bring?

Time will tell…gjmt
____________________________________________________

Jobs real reason behind carbon tax – Labor MP Janelle Saffin

February 28, 2011 9:08AM

JOBS rather than the environment are the reason the Government wants to tax carbon, one Labor backbencher says.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has proposed a carbon price regime to begin in July 2012 as a means of tackling climate change.

But when asked whether the plan was about jobs or the environment, Janelle Saffin was firm.

“It’s about jobs,” the backbencher said today.

The development of the regime is in its very early stages and already agriculture, a large carbon producer, has been made exempt.

Now a debate has erupted over whether petrol will be taxed.

“It’s really important that we have the debate,” Ms Saffin said.

23 October, 2009 | Media Release

The ACTU has welcomed the Rudd Government’s draft National Green Skills Agreement announced today which will equip thousands of apprentices in emerging and existing industries with the skills to help tackle climate change.

Mandatory green skills will be included in all apprentice training from the end of 2010.

“The skills of our plumbers, construction workers, electricians and other specialist trades workers will be fundamental in ensuring that Australia is able to move quickly and flexibly in creating a sustainable, low carbon economy,” said ACTU President Sharan Burrow at today’s Green Skills Forum in Melbourne.

“It is estimated that we are going to need to re-train and upskill about 3 million workers in the next 20 years to meet the challenge.

“Unions are already working hard in this area.

“The Plumbers’ Union (CEPU) in Victoria has already set up a “Plumbing Industry Climate Change Action Centre” which is aims to up-skill the state’s 21,000 plumbers and set up similar centres nationally.

“Water management is one area where we are creating new jobs and expertise and an area in which Australia can lead the world.

“However, the creation of hundreds of thousands more jobs and apprenticeships in other clean energy and clean tech industries are on hold because Australia’s climate change laws are being blocked in the Parliament.

“We urgently need national policies in place to drive investment and a fast but fair transition to a low carbon economy.

“Australia is already being left behind, with the rest of the world moving quickly to take advantage of a $6 trillion global market in clean tech products, services, expertise and technology,” the ACTU President told the forum.

More information
The Hon Julia Gillard MP: Address to the Green Skills Forum

Patrick Manning
July 7, 2009

IT’S NOT every superannuation fund chief executive who can persuade Al Gore to come to Australia to launch a plan to move the nation to clean energy.

Bob Welsh, head of the $6 billion Vicsuper fund, can – partly because he is one of the biggest local investors in Generation Investment Management, the London-based fund manager that Mr Gore chairs.

At a business breakfast in Melbourne next Monday Mr Gore will launch Safe Climate Australia, a non-profit, non-partisan organisation working on Australia’s move to a zero-carbon economy.

The organisation was inspired by Mr Gore’s “Repower America” plan to transform the US economy in 10 years.

Vicsuper, which has more than 247,000 members, is hosting the launch and has previously backed other programs set up by the Safe Climate chief executive, Brendan Condon.

Mr Welsh, who has headed the former public sector fund since it was set up in 1994, has been a “green super” pioneer. His aim is to make Vicsuper, truly sustainable, and he has been prepared to break a few rules to get there.

Vicsuper has made sustainable investment an integral part of its strategy instead of an option available to members who choose it, as most super funds do.

It now has about $1.4 billion in a range of sustainable investment strategies, including $580 million in listed domestic and international share funds, $92 million in forestry and $250 million in its Future Farming Landscapes program, which is buying up rural land and water in northern Victoria. Another $122 million is committed to sustainable private equity.

Mr Welsh has been prepared to sideline the actuaries who advised, for example, that such venture capital investments were “risky” and had “no track record”.

In late 2007 Vicsuper seeded the Cleantech Australia Fund – which invests in Australian start-ups such as the wave-energy converter Oceanlinx – with $30 million.

“That was really satisfying,” Mr Welsh said. “Because the asset consultants said, ‘Look, this is a first-time approach; we don’t know whether the investment case makes sense’.”

Vicsuper is unusual in another way: it does not provide its performance figures to independent ratings agencies such as Super Ratings, although the figures are available on its website.

“We think it’s important to get people to focus on the long term,” Mr Welsh said. “It is impossible to compare returns unless you have exactly the same weighted cash flows and asset allocation. The league tables can be misleading. We don’t think it adds value.”

Vicsuper has a total of $135 million invested with Generation Investment Management. The fund manager does not discuss its performance figures either, but Mr Welsh said it had been “shooting the lights out” – finance-speak for caning it.

http://business.theage.com.au/business/green-strategy-wins-gores-favour-20090706-dah2.html

June 11, 2009 – 10:29AM

Australian companies have done little to preempt any negative impact emissions trading could have on future earnings, risking downgrades from credit rating agencies, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

PwC found that more than a third, or 35 per cent, of the businesses it surveyed haven’t factored in a proposed emissions trading system. Almost a quarter of companies have done nothing at all to prepare for the carbon plan, PwC said.

Australia delayed by a year to mid-2011 on May 4 the proposed start of a carbon trading system, which places a cost on emissions blamed for climate change. The government has called for a $10 a metric ton carbon price for a year until July 2012, after which the market will determine the cost.

Companies ”risk being downgraded by investment analysts and credit rating agencies” if they don’t develop an effective carbon emissions trading strategy, Liza Maimone, Sustainability & Climate Change Leader for PwC Australia, said in the survey.

About 23.8 per cent of businesses are ”comprehensively prepared” for the introduction of carbon trading, PwC said. Most companies indicated a plan to purchase emission permits to comply with the new regime and will outsource responsibility for trading, PwC said.

Chief executives from 151 Australian businesses in the manufacturing, mining and resources, construction, transport and finance industries were surveyed.

Emission cuts

Australia plans to cut its emissions by between 5 per cent and 15 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020. The nation would increase that target to 25 per cent “if the world agrees to an ambitious global deal,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on May 4.

Producers of liquefied natural gas said last year the proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme may cut Australia’s output of the fuel by half of what it would otherwise be in 2030.

Climate-treaty talks will take place in Copenhagen in December, where about 180 nations are due to negotiate an accord to replace the Kyoto Protocol expiring in 2012.

Australia’s federal opposition wants to defer a vote on the emissions trading system until after the Copenhagen meeting and the completion of US legislation. The Liberal-National coalition will move to amend the laws, which means the government may not pass them by its end-June target.

http://business.theage.com.au/business/aussie-firms-unprepared-for-emissions-trading-20090611-c451.html

MICHAEL PASCOE
June 11, 2009 – 10:13AM

In case you haven’t noticed, Australia’s carbon reduction policy is … actually, I don’t know what it is. Neither does anyone else.

And that’s damaging Australian business investment at a time when it’s already being damaged enough by other factors beyond our control.

The botched, patched, compromised and sure-to-be-further-compromised thing that Penny Wong is dragging around the Senate isn’t fooling anyone. It’s tempting to think that any policy opposed by the Nationals as being too tough and the Greens as being not tough enough might be about right – but it’s not.

Which is why the following couple of paragraphs from an Economist magazine editorial last month makes a lot of sense:

“The weakening of this bill illustrates one of the central problems with cap-and-trade systems. They are complex, obscure and therefore susceptible to horse-trading. A chuck of allowances can be handed out to one lobby, a sliver to another, and soon the system’s effectiveness has been sliced away. The corresponding attraction of a carbon tax, which this newspaper has always supported, is its simplicity. The government sets the rate. Everybody can see what it is. Voters get transparency. Businesses get certainty. And the government gets a large chunk of revenue – not to be sniffed at in these difficult times.

“This is an important moment. Thanks to much effort on the part of many well-intentioned people, Australia is prepared to legislate to control carbon. The country needs to seize this opportunity and introduce a simple carbon tax. Sceptics will howl about the initial cost, but it will be transparent and far, far cheaper than the impact of serious climate change.”

OK, I’ve changed one word in the above. “Australia” was “America” in the original as the Economist targeted the problems the US is having with its version of carbon trading legislation. The problems and lessons, though, are remarkably similar.

Senator Wong’s cap-and-trade scheme suffers from the same series of compromises as the Americans’ – coal comes out as the protected pollutant of choice, chased by self-interest groups of every shape and size also pleading “I’m special”. Yes, each of us is unique, just like everybody else.

The further horse trading that will be required for the Senate to pass something in time for the next federal election is only likely to make a bad bill worse. At some stage, it would be nice to think micro-manager Rudd would call “enough” and go for the much simpler, neater and transparent carbon-tax alternative.

But there’s a one major problem with a carbon tax: the second word in its name. After what the Opposition has been able to achieve with the relatively innocuous words “deficit” and “debt”, imagine the capital they’d make out of “new tax”.

Whoever the opposition leader might be at the next election, the battle cry would be the same: “We told you not to trust Labor – we told you they’d drive us into deficit and massive debt and now they’re introducing new taxes to bleed you dry and next they’ll sell your first born for body parts etc etc”.

A smarter, braver government might look beyond that to the opportunity a justifiable and for-a-good-green-cause tax represents. For a start, it could be sold as revenue neutral – no new tax burden at all. It could be a means of scrapping the worst of the remaining taxes, payroll tax for example, while also cushioning the genuinely needy in our society from the cost impact of pricing carbon.

Heavens, if you wanted to really grab some political headlines, you could replace the GST with a CT. Just a thought.

Imagine the fun Ken Henry’s tax review could have if it was really given room to roam outside the politically-acceptable square. As it stands, Henry was neutered before he started by the Nambour High boys excluding both GST and superannuation. No wonder the poor treasury secretary has been reduced to pondering if charities should be taxed and hairy-nosed wombats made deductible.

But we’ve had rational appraisal of a carbon tax here before. The Productivity Commission’s 2007 submission to the Howard government’s emissions trading taskforce found a carbon tax had merit, albeit as a transitional mechanism.

“In an interim situation, before an international agreement occurs, a tax has some advantages because it’s so much simpler to introduce,” said the commission’s chair, Gary Banks.

“It doesn’t have all the kind of complexities of gaming and positioning that we’ve observed in Europe and other places where they’ve introduced quotas and tradeable emissions.”

Well, we certainly have an interim situation, both domestically and internationally. If we were serious about carbon reduction, we could slip one in now while waiting for the US to sort out its mess and China to come to the aid of the party.

Instead, we’re reduced to a government scraping around the odds-and-sods in the Senate, looking to do a deal, another compromise on a half-planned compromise.

And there’s Senator Steve Fielding, just back from a quick jaunt to the US in the hope of learning about ETS and greenhouse and stuff. Maybe he met a good fundamentalist scientist who explained that it’s all foretold in the Good Book and we shouldn’t worry about it. There are bound to be a good few of those.

Or we could try being rational instead. Go on, Kev, be brave for once instead of just talking about being brave – give us a nice, shiny new tax and let Ken Henry’s review really go at it.

Michael Pascoe is a BusinessDay contributing editor and extravagant carbon emitter.

Carbon trading: stuffed and stuffing businessMICHAEL PASCOE
June 11, 2009 – 10:13AM
In case you haven’t noticed, Australia’s carbon reduction policy is … actually, I don’t know what it is. Neither does anyone else.

And that’s damaging Australian business investment at a time when it’s already being damaged enough by other factors beyond our control.

The botched, patched, compromised and sure-to-be-further-compromised thing that Penny Wong is dragging around the Senate isn’t fooling anyone. It’s tempting to think that any policy opposed by the Nationals as being too tough and the Greens as being not tough enough might be about right – but it’s not.

Which is why the following couple of paragraphs from an Economist magazine editorial last month makes a lot of sense:

“The weakening of this bill illustrates one of the central problems with cap-and-trade systems. They are complex, obscure and therefore susceptible to horse-trading. A chuck of allowances can be handed out to one lobby, a sliver to another, and soon the system’s effectiveness has been sliced away. The corresponding attraction of a carbon tax, which this newspaper has always supported, is its simplicity. The government sets the rate. Everybody can see what it is. Voters get transparency. Businesses get certainty. And the government gets a large chunk of revenue – not to be sniffed at in these difficult times.

“This is an important moment. Thanks to much effort on the part of many well-intentioned people, Australia is prepared to legislate to control carbon. The country needs to seize this opportunity and introduce a simple carbon tax. Sceptics will howl about the initial cost, but it will be transparent and far, far cheaper than the impact of serious climate change.”

OK, I’ve changed one word in the above. “Australia” was “America” in the original as the Economist targeted the problems the US is having with its version of carbon trading legislation. The problems and lessons, though, are remarkably similar.

Senator Wong’s cap-and-trade scheme suffers from the same series of compromises as the Americans’ – coal comes out as the protected pollutant of choice, chased by self-interest groups of every shape and size also pleading “I’m special”. Yes, each of us is unique, just like everybody else.

The further horse trading that will be required for the Senate to pass something in time for the next federal election is only likely to make a bad bill worse. At some stage, it would be nice to think micro-manager Rudd would call “enough” and go for the much simpler, neater and transparent carbon-tax alternative.

But there’s a one major problem with a carbon tax: the second word in its name. After what the Opposition has been able to achieve with the relatively innocuous words “deficit” and “debt”, imagine the capital they’d make out of “new tax”.

Whoever the opposition leader might be at the next election, the battle cry would be the same: “We told you not to trust Labor – we told you they’d drive us into deficit and massive debt and now they’re introducing new taxes to bleed you dry and next they’ll sell your first born for body parts etc etc”.

A smarter, braver government might look beyond that to the opportunity a justifiable and for-a-good-green-cause tax represents. For a start, it could be sold as revenue neutral – no new tax burden at all. It could be a means of scrapping the worst of the remaining taxes, payroll tax for example, while also cushioning the genuinely needy in our society from the cost impact of pricing carbon.

Heavens, if you wanted to really grab some political headlines, you could replace the GST with a CT. Just a thought.

Imagine the fun Ken Henry’s tax review could have if it was really given room to roam outside the politically-acceptable square. As it stands, Henry was neutered before he started by the Nambour High boys excluding both GST and superannuation. No wonder the poor treasury secretary has been reduced to pondering if charities should be taxed and hairy-nosed wombats made deductible.

But we’ve had rational appraisal of a carbon tax here before. The Productivity Commission’s 2007 submission to the Howard government’s emissions trading taskforce found a carbon tax had merit, albeit as a transitional mechanism.

“In an interim situation, before an international agreement occurs, a tax has some advantages because it’s so much simpler to introduce,” said the commission’s chair, Gary Banks.

“It doesn’t have all the kind of complexities of gaming and positioning that we’ve observed in Europe and other places where they’ve introduced quotas and tradeable emissions.”

Well, we certainly have an interim situation, both domestically and internationally. If we were serious about carbon reduction, we could slip one in now while waiting for the US to sort out its mess and China to come to the aid of the party.

Instead, we’re reduced to a government scraping around the odds-and-sods in the Senate, looking to do a deal, another compromise on a half-planned compromise.

And there’s Senator Steve Fielding, just back from a quick jaunt to the US in the hope of learning about ETS and greenhouse and stuff. Maybe he met a good fundamentalist scientist who explained that it’s all foretold in the Good Book and we shouldn’t worry about it. There are bound to be a good few of those.

Or we could try being rational instead. Go on, Kev, be brave for once instead of just talking about being brave – give us a nice, shiny new tax and let Ken Henry’s review really go at it.

Michael Pascoe is a BusinessDay contributing editor and extravagant carbon emitter.

Clancy Yeates
June 11, 2009

THE Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Greg Combet, has warned coal producers that time is running out for haggling over the carbon pollution reduction scheme, and they could receive less government support if a stalemate in negotiations continues.

Mr Combet, who is trying to get coal producers on side with the Government, yesterday said coal was unlikely to qualify for support as a trade-exposed industry.

And in a veiled threat, he said failure to reach an agreement could leave the Government no option but to negotiate with the Greens, who favour even less assistance for the sector.

“It is time … for the coal industry to very carefully think about where things are up to and the fact that time is starting to get very tight now,” he told a business audience in Sydney.

The Senate will vote on the proposed scheme later this month, and Mr Combet said the Government was fully intent on passing the bill.

“When the Government is determined to prosecute legislation through the Senate it has to get support from somewhere. Now Senator Wong, my minister … is having discussions with the Greens, and the Greens are opposed to any assistance of this form for the coal industry, and they are certainly opposed to any more assistance.”

The Government has offered coal producers $750 million over five years but the industry has demanded up to $10 billion.

The sector – the country’s biggest export earner, worth $54.5 billion last year – says it should qualify for compensation as an emissions-intensive trade-exposed industry.

Global heavyweights such as Xstrata and Anglo Coal have warned that under the scheme many mines will be closed because their foreign competitors will not face a carbon price.

But Mr Combet, whose electorate is the coal heartland of the Hunter Valley, said the impact of the scheme varied according to methane emissions of each mine. The liability of emissions could range from 80c a tonne of coal produced to $20 a tonne, and Mr Combet said support should favour the most severely affected producers.

More broadly, he argued that progress on a US emissions scheme highlighted the need for local business to get behind the Government’s proposal.

He said US business would face greater uncertainty under the proposed scheme than companies in Australia, and assistance in the US would be concentrated on a narrower range of industries.

http://business.smh.com.au/business/combet-lays-down-law-to-coal-miners-20090610-c3mm.html?sssdmh=dm16.381331

Al Gore: Oil “Junkie” America Needs Third World Help
BY Chris Dannen
Fri Jun 5, 2009 at 9:54 AM

The former Vice President, clean-shaven in a dark suit and black cowboy boots, pauses. “Junkies find veins in their toes, when the veins in their arms and legs collapse,” he says to Charlie Rose. The audience suffers an uncomfortable pause, and then laughs. Gore keeps a straight face. He isn’t joking.

This is the closing panel of the Cornell Global Forum on Sustainable Enterprise, held on New York’s Upper East Side on June 3. The panel includes Gore, Ratan Tata, Chairman of Indian conglomerate Tata Group, Fisk Johnson, Chairman of SC Johnson, and Stuart Hart of Cornell’s Johnson School of Management. Rose is moderating the talk; he’s just asked whether clean energy tech will be made moot by the oil companies’ efforts to wring oil from deep sea drilling, shist, and shale.

No, Gore says–oil is still there to be found, but it’s increasingly inaccessible and expensive. In most discussions about climate change, this is usually the point everyone veers off into fatuous discussions of tomorrow-land: fancy clean cars, smart grids, carbon capture, solar, and so on. But tonight is different; none of the venture capital projects come up. (Below, Gore at Cornell’s Global Forum)

Instead, the participants discuss how the U.S. can’t build a market for sustainable enterprises without developing countries–or as the panelists call them, the countries at “the base of the pyramid.”

What? Since when do we need Kenya and Vietnam? We have Tesla and the Governator and the stimulus! Don’t we?

Not if you believe Tata (seen below). He describes how mobile phones took root quickly in his native India because when they were introduced there was a seven-year wait for landline phones. “The application of these [clean] technologies at the base of the pyramid means broader markets,” he said, describing how cultures with entrenched infrastructure (like the U.S. and Europe) adopt some new technologies more slowly because they don’t see the need for substitute goods and services. Those broad markets in poorer countries, Tata says, “gives you scale to commercialize” in a way that’s impossible in developed countries.

When you consider some of the breakthrough technologies we’re talking about–solar panels, wind mills, point-of-use irrigation systems–it’s obvious; in America, we don’t need these things. We simply want them. In south Asia, for example, where stoves are burning animal dung or plant matter, energy is both more expensive (by up to a factor of 10, according to panelist Hart) and harder to come by.

Fisk Johnson said that his company, SC Johnson, sees a similar phenomenon. Instead of the usual “trickle-down” of technology from first world to third, he said, his labs have discovered that in many instances, the trickle flows in the opposite direction. One example: cheap, natural plant-based pesticides that SC Johnson is harvesting in Vietnam. “We have technologies from the developing world that we’re bringing down to the developed world,” he said. SC Johnson also has a special lab in China that deconstructs the company’s household products and strips them to their bare essentials, keeping only the qualities customers want most. That takes out unnecessary chemicals and ingredients which, he says, usually makes the end product cheaper.

So the first world may not own the solutions to the crisis, but we also don’t own all the blame, Gore says. Those dung-burning stoves in south Asia (pictured below, courtesy of GPHE)? They produce a whole lot of dense soot, the likes of which ends up covering the Himalayan glaciers and increasing the amount of sunlight they absorb. In 10 years, Gore says, those glaciers will be completely gone during the summer months, meaning that their runoff won’t be there to fill Asia’s seven great rivers. Those rivers constitute much of Asia’s water supply; it’s a water crisis in the making.

Gore concedes that the U.S. can indeed (and must) provide leadership, but it’s not necessarily in the way you’d think. He says that it’s vital that the U.S. abandons the “tyranny of the quarterly earnings reports” that has made our public companies short-sighted pump-and-dump entities. Executives and consultants, he says, are incentivized to juice earnings before each report, which encourages them to eschew long-term strategizing. “If you pay people to do something,” he says, “don’t be surprised if that’s what they do.”

Help will come in the form of cap-and-trade legislation like the bill before Congress right now. This kind of legislation, Gore says, will assign a real monetary cost to carbon emissions–something that doesn’t exist right now. Once a cost is in place, companies can react to the new economics of climate change. If the U.S. and China can agree on a common cap-and-trade policy, Gore says,”then we’re really off to the races.”