Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Ross Gittins on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme conundrum

Ross Gittins explains why the draft Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation seems stuck: Labor doesn't have the votes in the Senate without either the Greens (who won't compromise), or the Liberals (who don't know what they want) or the Nationals ("agrarian populism").

Rudd's initial proposal was purpose-built to be irresistible to the Coalition. It adopted the lowest possible go-it-alone emissions reduction target - 5 per cent - and a pathetically low 15 per cent reduction in the event of an international agreement in Copenhagen in December.

It accommodated the demands of business lobby groups to an extent Rudd's own expert, Professor Ross Garnaut, found repugnant. ... Rudd offered the Coalition a scheme little different to the one it took to the last election (both schemes having been designed by the same bureaucrats). What was Malcolm Turnbull's reaction? Nothing doing. He rejected it, contriving to claim it was simultaneously too weak and too tough.


Clive Hamilton in Crikey believes that Labor could force it through the Senate if they had the balls. I don't know. Maybe there is some brinksmanship here in the hope the Greens will at the last minute see high but realistic targets as a lesser evil, or that the power struggle in the Liberals will resolve.

The climate-skeptical position of the Nationals, though apparently firmly set, is bizarre to me, because their rural consistency may suffer more than anyone else from climate change. The few farmers I know personally are firmly convinced, because they have to adapt to changing temperatures and rainfall by destocking land or growing new crops.

3 comments:

Mary said...

I can't account for Nationals climate skepticism systematically, but I think one of the problems is that livestock farming (especially cattle) is a significant contributor to climate change, and would therefore be significantly financially impacted if greenhouse gas producers all have economic penalties equally applied. (Plus, they are probably aware that the more firm end of the environmentalist movement is calling for the end of all forms of agriculture in Australia, eg, Jared Diamond has done so.)

Thus, they may be trying to stop the push well before it gets to them.

Friendless said...

If Labor is willing to settle for a CPRS that the Liberals will vote for, it won't be worth having. If Labor really wanted it, they'd force a double dissolution and take at least the original (crappy) scheme to the people. As it is, they might force a DD and take the even worse scheme to the people. Damned if I would vote for them in those circumstances (and with the other bullshit they've been carrying on with, I can't see myself voting for them under any circumstances).

mbp said...

@Mary you're probably right.

You prompted me to have a look in Collapse:

"The simplest way for Australia to fulfil its stated commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions would be to eliminate its cattle."

He doesn't go so far (at least in this book) as to suggest eliminating all agriculture. He does point out that much of it is economically inefficient, and even those that do make a profit pay the farmers less than the minimum wage and a poor return on equity, and that they're probably doing it for non-economic factors.

"Is it a good use of Australian taxpayers' money to subsidize so much unprofitable or destructive land use?"

(He also, it has to be said, obscures his argument by quoting return per land area, not per dollar of capital or per worker. It's unsurprising to Australians that 99% of the land area is marginal -- obviously rambutans or opium poppies make more $/hectare than cattle -- a better question is how many farms are worthwhile.)