Don’t mention the carbon tax

en:Primorye Power Plant in Luchegorsk, Primors...

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Finally we have a carbon tax proposal on the table. It’s not yet passed into legislation, but, hopefully, that should be a formality. After months of bluster and ballyhoo it’s here, and it’s a better package than I expected.

It’s no secret I’m sceptic when it comes to government credibility. I think they’re weak, indecisive, and much too easily led by woolly headed advisors and the whims of public opinion. On top of that they have been continuously and embarrassingly manhandled by Tony Abbott who continues to rule the airwaves and the agenda. In this he has been aided and abetted by large sections of the press, namely the Murdoch press, who seem determined to bring down the government. It’s a bit of an evil loop as the Murdoch press contains the tabloids that the common folk of Oz read, and sadly, if Andrew Bolt tells them something is a bad thing then most seem happy to nod their head in agreement without thinking any deeper than that.

Still, the ‘tax’ – as it has been reduced to (thanks Tony Abbott) – looks a fait accompli, and I suspect will die as a major issue within 18 months.

I won’t argue how necessary it is. I think it is a no-brainer (which roughly corresponds to the mental capacity of many critics). I don’t know of anyone credible who now disputes that climate change is a reality. Given that as a fact then clearly something must be done about it. There are no magic wands in government and things just don’t go away when you wish them too. There’s always going to be pain for someone when it comes to limiting our carbon excesses – and in many ways that’s the point of it. There must be incentives – or dis-incentives – for this to work. If you pollute you get penalised. If you turn to alternative options then you won’t.

It’s not about the money. The government isn’t trying to line it’s coffers – evidenced by the pretty generous rebates on offer to most folk. It’s all about the reality that the great majority of big business will not change their ways unless they are forced to. A ‘tax’ forces that. Ultimately it’s cheaper for them to look at the alternatives to produce more cleanly, which is the other great benefit of this. I work in that business, and I know that innovation thrives when necessity demands it. I would hope that from this a lot of clever solutions will be found, and many previously unconsidered short-cuts will now become reality. Long term the environment benefits, but so to does society and business. I may sound like a bit of a pollyanna, but that’s the experience of history. I don’t see why it will be any different this time.

The one question is whether this change is too little, too late for the environment – particularly as the rest of the world must come to the party. I think it’s inevitable that we’re in for some climate pain. The best we can hope for I think is to mitigate, or minimise that. And that really puts this whole conversation into a scary perspective. Tony Abbott may get up on his soap box and rant about the impost to the Australian people day and night (disgracefully so); and the Murdoch press may push their poisonous agenda, but it’s not really about a few dollars here and there. It’s about the future of the planet. Repeat that after me: it’s about the future of the planet.

We’re at a critical point in history when we can choose to act, or not. If we don’t we risk consigning our children and their children to a world a lot harder than the world we live in today. This is our decision, and it must be made now. At last we have acted on it, and if there is a cost then it is negligible against what we risk losing. Do I mind taking a few dollars from my pocket to make a better world? Of course not.

Unfortunately perspective is the first real victim of party politics, but to be so loose with it is irresponsible and unforgivable. Hopefully we will soon be past that.

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