Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Legitimacy Lost

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-02-27

Even The Economist is expressing disappointment at the Rudd government’s response to the Garnaut report, and cannot make sense of it, especially as the need for deeper emissions cuts is likely to become greater as more science comes in.

It’s worth taking a couple of quotes from Money Meets Mouth – How green is Australia prepared to get? (2008-02-25)

After detailing our natural resources (e.g. sun) that provide for clean energy, they state:

Australian politicians should find it easier than their counterparts elsewhere in the rich world to tackle climate change, and they should push for as tough a global response as possible.

As far as delays are concerned, the hard-nosed bean-counters at the journal explain the urgency of quicker cuts:

So the most significant feature of any cap-and-trade scheme is not the cuts it will yield by 2050, but the ones that are due by 2020.  Unfortunately, Australia’s government has not yet shed any light on its plans in that regard—although Mr Garnaut has urged them to.

Yes, reputable economics journals think Rudd’s statements are gutless and stupid:

New Zealand, Costa Rica, Iceland and Norway are thinking even bigger: all are aiming for carbon neutrality.

If the Rudd government considers keeping electoral promises important for its legitimacy, the excuse for their ongoing intent for economically irresponsible tax cuts, then one of the major reasons why they won the last election, the promises for strong environmental action compared to Howard, has already been tossed aside – and the Rudd government’s legitimacy with it.


  • As Oz is one of the top carbon emitters per capita, marginally less than the USA, and per-capita limits are required for equity, it’s worth looking at "Per Capita CO2 Emission Standards" (2007-06-02)


5 Responses to “Legitimacy Lost”

  1. […] Balneus for […]

  2. They say history never repeats but Rudd is playing the same Howard tactic of commissioning studies rather than taking action..oldest trick in the book…the fact is that the Australian economy and green environmental objectives arn’t really good bed fellows…that was the finding of a massive CSIRO study, Future Dilemma’s (2001) which featured on 4corners. Sending millions of tonnes of agricultural matter by ship to far away places for less than input cost (key finding of report) suggests we should’nt be riding on the sheeps or anyone elses back. There is no shortage of science to direct policy, just a shortage of honest politicians to put aside industry lobby favours, for one moment, to act in the national interest.

  3. […] Bath observes that Kevin Rudd’s unenthusiastic response to the Garnaut interim report has been noted abroad.Jeremy Sears finds himself comforted by Malcolm Turnbull’s assurances that the Howard […]

  4. Dave Bath said


    You say

    "the fact is that the Australian economy and green environmental objectives arn’t really good bed fellows"

    This is simply wrong.  I hope this is a criticism of the report you mention rather than your opinion.

    Actually, green environmental objectives and economic health do make excellent bedfellows.  If the Rudd government suggests the myth of incompatibility.

    Consider Germany’s lead, by appropriate government policies (including tax breaks) that give it not only the lead in the percentage of power supplied by solar, but a booming export market in a sector unlikely to suffer a drop in demand for the next century (assuming civilization remains intact).

    The silly thing is that by headlining more appropriate metrics (per capita GDP rather than total GDP), governments can tout their economic credentials even in an economy that drops the environmental load by decreasing population.  And that’s just the start.

    More on better headline metrics that can be reported each month in a future post.

    See Also:
    Renewable Energy Accelerates Meteoric Rise gives an overview of a new report (available here) on the expanding markets and capacities of renewable energy sectors.

    A few quotes:

    * So much has happened in the renewable energy sector during the past five years that the perceptions of some politicians and energy-sector analysts lag far behind the reality of where the renewables industry is today.

    * In 2007, more than $100 billion was invested in renewable energy production assets, manufacturing, research, and development

    *An international team of 140 researchers and contributors from both developed and developing countries (produced) the report (which) says renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and small-scale hydropower offer countries the means to improve their energy security and spur economic development.

    *The renewable energy sector now accounts for 2.4 million jobs globally

    Rudd and company seem to be best described not by their self-labelling as economic conservatives, but as economic troglodytes.  Another description (enjoying mixed metaphors) could be chickens with their heads in the sand.

  5. The report I mention by Barney Foran et al, Future Dilemmas, is an input/ouput analysis of the physical economy in Australia. A key finding of the report is the undervaluing (through under pricing) of export produce. The analysis suggests useage and damage to natural assets (water/air/soil) is not reflected in pricing and therefore $ is not available to correct the situation. Pricing which reflected the true cost would (through market mechanisms) shift the Australian economy into a direction which is more in tune with green environmental objectives. Richard Dennis of the Australia Institute describes this as Policy Perversity. An example is the current excise structure on fuels which prohibits the development of natural gas technologies in favour of liquid fossil fuels. The point is that there is ample room for the government to act immediately to curb greenhouse gases without referring to more reports.

    So when I say the “Australian Economy and green enviro objectives arn’t good bedfellows”, I will clarify in the context of above and say “the current Australian Economy”.

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