Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Musings on Emissions Trading

Federal Liberal Party & Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, has kept his job. But he likes to test the waters. He released the new, updated Liberal-National Parties' policy on an Emissions Trading Scheme before the party discussed it. Yes, former PM John Howard used to do that, but no-one was game to criticise him. Turnbull could do it because he knows there is no-one else who could be leader. No-one: they are all tainted with the decisions of John Howard, Turnbull among them, but none of the others has the leadership ability, or public charisma of Turnbull: and HIS rating sits lower than a limbo bar!

The new Coalition Emissions Trading Policy, devised by Frontier Economics with a tight brief on what to protect has the following main features:
  • agriculture is excluded. Yes, there is no cost for those who wish to clear-fell trees. It is after all, an "agricultural" activity.
  • emissions-intensive industries get 100% free permits. (& perhaps a free lunch with the current Opposition Leader?)
  • electricity producers, those who burn huge amounts of coal & generate huge CO2 emissions, would get a baseline & credit system. Free permits up to a baseline, then they have to pay. The problem is that the baseline will be so high, it will be largely meaningless.
  • the coal industry (miners) gets more help
  • electricity price rises have been kept to a minimum (so that consumers & industry don't need to change their usage habits, thus keeping profits up)
  • claims of a 10% reduction in greenhouse gases hinge on the goodwill of polluters to buy carbon credits off-shore. Like the Government's "up to 25%" this is not a fixed target, only a "best - possible - outcome -if - the - gods - are - kind" figure.
Malcolm Turnbull hopes this will be politically popular - that's why he's done it - but voters should never confuse popularity with good policy, and already questions are being asked about the policy, and the Government has launched a PR attack, in, and out of, Parliament.

We'd really rather they argued rationally, but politics is all marketing these days, isn't it? Bloody marketers!