Post archive – by topic

Personal carbon offsetting 2019

I have discovered that individual purchases of carbon offsets from registered charities (i.e. not for a business nor from a business) are tax deductible. As such, while the South Pole Group (from whom I last purchased) is still around, I have switched to buying Gold Standard Voluntary Emission Reductions from the Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund. They sell offsets from Australia’s first (and, as far as I can tell, only) GS VER project.

Otherwise, my post from 2017 is still pretty current.

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Government raids aren't about journalists, but about society

Forget ‘journalists’: the AFP raids are an attack on people who make life uncomfortable for the state; people who resist the desires of government and government bodies to keep their mistakes secret and avoid being held to account. Journalists might be “chilled” by these raids, but they are primarily the vector for attacks on whistle blowers – which is to say, attacks on ordinary people exposing the wrongdoing of those with power.

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We have a responsibility to, and for, terrorists

I’m uncomfortable with the Government cancelling the citizenship of Australians it doesn’t like: Neil Prakash, in this case. He’s our problem. Prakash is a mangy cur we helped raise, and rather than taking responsibility for him, we’re kicking him out onto the street and expecting our neighbours to take care of him.

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Personal carbon offsetting 2017


I’m buying Gold Standard offsets from South Pole Group now. If you want to offset your own emissions, try estimating them using the EPA’s Australian Greenhouse Calculator. Then use the South Pole Group website to buy credits – ideally Gold Standard, but Verified Carbon Standard are probably also fine.

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How much superannuation do I need?

Don’t panic about your superannuation. You probably won’t need as much as you think – 80% of current retirees spend less than ASFA’s “modest” standard, and the current Age Pension mostly covers that.

(That said, long term compound growth investment is terrific, and I encourage you to invest in your super if you can afford it.)

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Research vs consent: the Australian Census

I’m quite conflicted about the Australian Census this year. Basically I’m torn between loving the Census and thinking the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) are handling the process – especially the privacy concerns – like out-of-touch chumps.

On the one hand, the Census is great. It provides data that are incredible valuable and important for many, many aspects of policy in Australia. My work and research would be so much harder without the ABS in general, and the Census in particular. I want both to continue and to be excellent.

On the other hand – what the fuck are the ABS doing? Linking our Census data with data from other sources may be incredibly valuable from a research perspective, but it’s also a massive reduction in privacy. The trade may well be worth it – but for fuck’s sake, that’s not a decision an agency just gets to announce.

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Spätzle recipe

On request: how I make Spätzle and Kässpätzle.

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Victoria's Citizens' Jury on Obesity #1: Introduction

We have an obesity problem.
How can we make it easier to eat better?

The newDemocracy Foundation and VicHealth are running a Citizens’ Jury on obesity, and I’ve had the luck to be one of 100 people randomly selected. I intend to post about the experience along the way, both here and probably on Twitter.

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The CCA's implicit social cost of carbon

Australia’s Climate Change Authority (CCA), in its 2014 Targets and Progress Review, recommended that Australia pursue a minimum reduction in GHG emissions of 19% by 2020 (vs. 2000). In modelling that target, the CCA estimated that it would involve carbon prices of up to $30/tCO2-e in 2020, in real terms. (See p. 135)

The CCA used the damage costs of carbon (i.e. the social costs) in making its recommendations. While not explicitly stated, the CCA’s preparedness to recommend an abatement target that imposes costs of $30/tCO2-e in 2020, in real terms, implies the CCA regards the social costs of carbon as ≥$30/tCO2-e.

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Additionality in the VEET

When I reviewed energy efficiency trading schemes a few years ago,* the VEET was the only scheme we considered to address additionality. The section of the VEET Act 2007 we referred to was Division 2 (Prescribed Activities), §15 (2):

An activity may be prescribed to be a prescribed activity if the activity will result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that would not otherwise have occurred if the activity was not undertaken.

However! I think we (I) referred to the wrong section – I think Division 2 (Prescribed Activities), §19 (2) is the appropriate one:

Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the discount factors are to take into account any uncertainty associated with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that would eventuate from a specified prescribed activity or specified class of prescribed activities but for the existence of the VEET scheme.


* Betz, R., Jones, M.C., MacGill, I.M., and Passey, R. (2013). Trading in energy efficiency in Australia: What are the lessons learnt so far? [PDF]