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Tag Archives: ross garnault; climate change; greg hunt; greg combet; carbon tax; ets; greenhouse

A potential game-changer for the government

March 18, 2011
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Carbon tax to help cut household taxes?

Professor Ross Garnaut says that a portion of the carbon tax revenue should used to reduce taxes for and middle-income households

Tony Abbott has been rehearsing for an election campaign in which he is the champion of the stretched household budget and the working man’s job, the guy who promises to repeal a great big new carbon tax. But a campaign where he can’t afford to match a personal income tax cut for most struggling families would be something else altogether.

Professor Ross Garnaut’s suggestion that the government link its floundering climate change reform with the Henry review’s proposed personal tax reform, shelved before the last election when things were getting a bit on top of them, could recast everything.

That’s why the government is considering it very seriously indeed. Julia Gillard and Greg Combet are working hard to claw back the early advantage Tony Abbott has gained with his blitz of radio interviews and visits to regional centres.

Garnaut insisted the Coalition’s Direct Action plan would be more expensive for households and less efficient in reducing emissions, a throw-back to Soviet-era central planning. He said this was in no way partisan because he (the professor) had been advocating free markets back when the Coalition had also believed in them and it was the Coalition that had changed its mind.

The intellectual antecedents of his policy have not mattered a jot to the Opposition Leader, who every day raises the spectre of what the tax could cost an industry or a family if there was no compensation at all, even though he knows generous compensation will be coming.

But it is difficult for the government to make the case that its scheme is comparatively less scary without details of exactly what it would cost and what the compensation would be.

Loy Yang Power Station in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria.

Loy Yang Power Station in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria. Photo: Paul Jones

And, given the complexity of the policy and the difficulty of funnelling every decision through the multi-party committee, we are unlikely to see those for some time.

The Garnaut report only starts to fill the information vacuum that has allowed the Coalition scare campaign to thrive. It concedes the government is going to have to offer generous industry compensation, at least in the short-term. It lays the groundwork for any petrol price increase to be delayed.

It will be influential, but it is not policy. That means a sensible debate comparing the cost of two schemes designed to meet exactly the same emissions reduction goal is still a way off.

Garnaut lambasts climate debate

Lenore Taylor

March 11, 2011

SCIENTIFIC evidence of global warming has become more certain and more alarming but the public has become less convinced about it, according to the government’s expert adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut.

As debate rages over Labor’s proposed carbon tax, Professor Garnaut said the latest evidence showed global temperatures rising as predicted and sea levels rising faster than forecast in the last intergovernmental report.

In Australia the decade ending in 2010 was the warmest on record, continuing the trend of each decade being warmer than the one before.

In the latest instalment of his climate report, Professor Garnaut said he was more certain than before that the science of global warming was sound.

”’On the balance of probabilities’ would understate my current view of the likelihood that the mainstream science is correct. I would now say it is highly probable,” he said, adding that there was no ”genuine” scientific dissent from ”the main propositions of the physics of climate change”.

But he said the ”debate” under way in newspapers and blogs in Australia was often ”antithetical” to science because it had become ”divorced from scientific rigour, quality and authority” with one opinion or book being seen as just as good as another.

”If you take our mainstream media, it often seeks to provide balance between people who base their views on the mainstream science and people who don’t. That’s a very strange sort of balance, it’s a balance of number of words but it is not a balance of scientific authority,” Professor Garnaut said.

Many scientists were starting to question whether the international goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees would be enough to avoid ”dangerous climate change”, although talks had so far failed to reach an agreement to achieve even that goal.

Australia’s target of reducing emissions by at least 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 – agreed to by both main parties – is seen as appropriate in the absence of a full international deal.

If there was a deal to limit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million – required to limit warming to 2 degrees – Australia’s ”fair share” would be a reduction target of 25 per cent.

Professor Garnaut said there was ”no prospect” of a tougher goal than 450 parts per million being agreed upon.

The Australian Industry Greenhouse Network, which represents companies responsible for 90 per cent of Australia’s emissions, denied reports it was calling for a delay to the imposition of a carbon price.

”We are not calling for a delay in the start date and we are certainly not asking that the tax be put on hold,” the network chief executive, Michael Hitchens, said. ”We simply want to ensure the government gets details of the scheme out in time”.

But the network did call for policy changes the government has already ruled out, including a phase out of the renewable energy target and the ability for companies to buy cheaper international permits to meet their obligations under a carbon tax.

The Coalition climate spokesman, Greg Hunt, said the opposition’s policy was that ”the science is real, confirmed and significant” but it did not justify a petrol and electricity tax.