Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Undemocratic double-dipping

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-05-05

Double-dipping in chocolate is good.

Double-dipping in the pockets of taxpayers to pay for carbon emissions reductions isn’t.

The double-dipping comes from taxpayers funding Big Carbon (through giveaway credits) and then expecting individual taxpayers to fund further lowering of emissions permits – which still won’t reach the minimal carbon pollution reduction targets scientists say are necessary.

Other questions:

  • Given per-unit power prices are expected to increase (probably more than you can control with energy efficiency), where will the spare cash come from for individuals to fund the Carbon Trust?
  • What about the millions of Australians who rent and cannot install energy-saving gizmos?  Note there is no incentive for landlords.
  • If you’ve been a good little home-owner, installed all the energy-efficient gizmos already, especially if you are almost off-grid, it’s pretty hard to find further savings (you are probably still paying off the gizmos).

It seems like the changes to the CPRS to allow for individual actions is merely a publicity stunt, a sop to those who made submissions complaining about the powerlessness of individuals to make a difference.

The net effect of these changes will be approximately bugger-all.  Combined with the increased giveaways to Big Carbon, and the delay introducing the scheme, and the package is probably worse than it was before the inquiry.

Imagine instead if the permits were allocated to individuals, who could then sell them to the highest bidder from an industry the individual would accept, or simply take those permits out of the system.  Those depending on Big Carbon (e.g. coal workers or shopkeepers in mining towns) could always donate them to the company they rely on.

This would hardly be a good solution, much less effective than a "Carbon Tax" structured similar to the GST, with tax revenues spent on national energy efficiency, but at least the allocation of permits wouldn’t happen in dark rooms, between faceless party hacks and big business, so the results of allocating permits to individuals would be philosophically in tune with democratic principles.

Besides, the CPRS simply ignores the severity of the problem.  Consider Stern’s latest work (reviewed in Nature News) where he debunks the "cost too much" neo-denialists, and says his estimates in his original work about what was required were too far from the scientific evidence, then and since.

developed countries must immediately adopt binding targets to reduce greenhouse gases to at least 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.  Developing nations must take on binding targets no later than 2020 requiring that their emissions reach a peak and start to decline before 2030 — and sooner for the fastest-growing economies.

This isn’t a scientist, this is an economist, considered responsible and intelligent enough to head an inquiry by a significant government.

The only estimate that seems to be near his original ones is the cost:

The costs of all of this are perhaps one to two per cent of world output for some years to come.  International funding required from rich countries might be around 0.3 per cent of gross domestic product — roughly ten per cent of current military spending, or one per cent of total government spending.  There is no way to argue that this is unaffordable.  Since the threat is real and devastating, protection at that price is a bargain.

For a much less serious problem, created by white-collar con-artists in the financial industry, the Australian government is spending 10 times that amount as a percentage of the GDP.

But then, problems that will only last as long as an election cycle will attract taxpayer funds via politicians.

So much for KRudd’s promises about long-term thinking.

But what alternatives to electors have?  It’s like having to choose Hitler or Stalin.

See Also/Notes:


2 Responses to “Undemocratic double-dipping”

  1. Al said

    I agree. They are tinkering around the edges with a shonky policy. I think they should scrap it and start again with a system that is fair and one that works. This CPRS will reward the largest polluters to the detriment of others.

  2. […] Undemocratic double-dipping […]

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