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Entries in policy (23)

Friday
Dec202013

Cost of living decreases if carbon price repealed?

I was asked this week to pull together some information on what effects the Federal Coalition’s repeal of the carbon price could have on households, specifically as regards their income and expenses (excluding environmental costs/benefits), with the background of whether any cost of living decreases could be used to justify cutting back on other welfare programs. This is only a very quick analysis (and I’ve doubtlessly missed some more rigorous analysis that others have done), but my short answer is that cutting welfare programs due to an abolition of the carbon price is a bad idea.

The most recent and comprehensive source of information on this is the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 Explanatory Memorandum. I’ve only skimmed it, but the gist is:

  • The carbon price will be removed
  • Household compensation will be kept at current levels, but no longer increased
  • The ACCC will have new powers to investigate failure to pass through carbon price reductions for regulated supply (i.e. gas and electricity)


Taking these in turn:

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar252013

States of decay: Complementing the federal carbon policy

Updated on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 23:10 by Registered CommenterMCJ

With the centrepiece of Australia’s climate policy not even a year old, most Australians are sick of it, or sick of hearing about it – fewer than 13% trust what politicians say about major public issues like climate change. And in the shadow of the Clean Energy Future package (CEF), state and federal governments are quietly letting other climate policies slip.

This “abdication of climate policy”, as Tristan Edis calls it, wouldn’t be so bad if Australia’s climate policy were perfect. But it isn’t; no policy is. The carbon price, while worth having, is a broad, blunt tool that covers but two-thirds of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The rest of the CEF fills in some gaps, but there is ample room for further complementary climate policy at a state and federal level.

I wrote last year on this topic, giving reasons why state (or other federal) climate policies could still be worthwhile under the CEF. This would mean innovative approaches:

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Friday
Nov302012

DEHSt discussion paper: Prospects for CDM in Post 2012 Carbon Markets

Earlier in the year I contributed to a discussion paper about the prospects for the Clean Development Mechanism; the part of the Kyoto protocol that enables the creation of internationally traded carbon offsets.

The German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt), part of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), was/is worried about the fragmentation of international carbon markets without a clear successor to the Kyoto protocol, and wanted to look at provisions for offsetting by potential major carbon credit
buyers such as Australia, California, South Korea, and Japan.

The paper is now live on their website:

Discussion Paper: Prospects for CDM in Post 2012 Carbon Markets

Thursday
Nov222012

Preventive health response to alcohol problems

Health researchers Michael Thorn (CEO of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education) and Professor Sandra Jones (Director of Centre for Health Initiatives at University of Wollongong) had an interesting article in Crikey yesterday pulling together some research on preventive health responses to alcohol problems. It’s paywalled (readable with a free trial), but here are some excerpts:

Price response: Studies consistently show that lower socioeconomic groups and people with limited disposable income (young people, indigenous groups and heavy drinkers) are more responsive to price.

Alcohol floor price: The Australian National Preventive Health Agency has made an economically convincing case that reforming the wine equalisation tax (WET) must come before introducing minimum price regimes. A view supported by brewers, distillers and two of Australia’s largest wine corporations.

Alcohol taxation benefit cost analysis: The research is clear that alcohol taxation reform is justified. 85% of Australians will be better off as a consequence. Access Economics’ analysis has been repudiated and the $20 billion a year cost estimate of alcohol’s “harm to others” confirmed.

Rational thinking: This is not a moral case. There are social, health and economic arguments that fully justify acting to reduce the more than $10 billion a year cost to government. These are tangible alcohol-related police, justice and health care costs that far exceed the $6 billion of alcohol tax collected each year.

Thorn and Jones’ article is in response to Bernard Keane’s piece two days previously decrying preventive health measures as attempts by “taxpayer-funded elites to crack down on what they disapprove of.”

Tuesday
Aug282012

Why Drop the Price Floor? Taking a Gamble on the EU

Updated on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 14:28 by Registered CommenterMCJ

Updated on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 16:27 by Registered CommenterMCJ

I couldn’t make much at first of today’s announcement by Greg Combet, Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, that Australia was going to link its ETS with the EU ETS, and oh, by the way, we’re dropping the price floor.

That Australia and the EU will link their schemes good news, but it’s an expected development. Dropping the price floor, on the hand, had been speculated about (notably by the AFR; well done, Marcus Priest), wasn’t really part of the original plan.

As I wrote back in May, a price floor has some good things going for it, despite being technically challenging, and as it’s only regulation the government has the numbers to pass it even with Rob Oakeshott’s opposition. So my initial reaction was that the floor price had been put in the “too hard” basket and the ETS linkage was just used to hide the announcement somewhat.

I’ve since heard, however, that dropping the price floor was a condition of the EU agreeing to link the schemes. This makes more sense.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug142012

The Nub of the Houston Report

Updated on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 19:51 by Registered CommenterMCJ

Updated on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 20:46 by Registered CommenterMCJ

Updated on Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 13:57 by Registered CommenterMCJ

I’m far from an expert on asylum seekers, and am still trying to wrap my head around all the stuff in the Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers (the ‘Houston Report’). Here’s the nub of the matter, though, as far as I understand it – this is essentially thinking out loud, so please do correct me if I’m wrong.

Problem: Asylum seekers are risking, and losing their lives coming to Australia by boat – as ‘irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs) – rather than waiting to be processed in transition countries.

Cause: Asylum seekers believe (rightly?) that they and their family members will be accepted as refugees in Australia more quickly than if they went through the ‘proper’ channels.

Proposed solution: IMAs should not get any advantages over asylum seekers coming to Australia through approved channels, so they will instead be taken and processed somewhere else, with no chance of arriving in Australia more rapidly than if they’d used the proper channels

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul242012

Laggard to Leader: a Review

Updated on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 16:41 by Registered CommenterMCJ

Beyond Zero Emissions, the non-for-profit climate change group, yesterday released the latest in their series of plans to get Australia to a state of zero emissions (or below): Laggard to Leader; How Australia can lead the world to zero carbon prosperity.

The report springs from the observation, also reported by e.g. Crikey on Friday, that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is failing to achieve the actions required to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change. It then goes beyond this to suggest new means of addressing the problem, in which Australia leads the world to a zero carbon future.

Sound utopian? It’s actually reasonably well argued, by and large, even if it’s difficult to see our current crop of politicians implementing many of the report’s suggestions.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun272012

Does It Make Sense for Australia to Restrict Its Export of Fossil Fuels?

Once we dig up and sell the coal, are we still responsible for the emissions? ‘Stop exporting fossil fuels’ has not just economic, but moral components, given that much of our fuels go to developing countries.

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Tuesday
May292012

Wish One Is ALWAYS for More Wishes

At a party celebrating the 5th birthday of the Centre for Policy Development, I was asked the following question:

“If you had three wishes to change the world to help the environment, but that change had to occur through political processes, what would those wishes be?”

I found the question fascinating, and pondered it for a minute or two. Think about your own answers for a while, if you like. (You know it’s a happening party when people stare into the middle distance rubbing their chins thoughtfully for a while.)

Click to read more ...

Friday
May112012

Surrendering to the Idea of a Price Floor

From July 2015, the Australian federal government will set the price of the permits in its emissions trading scheme free – within limits. The government intends to introduce a price floor and price ceiling until at least 2017/18.

This is good news for emission reduction activities whose viability depends on prices several years hence, such as larger, more complex projects. Further, the goal of abatement at least-cost should be balanced against the goal of abating as rapidly as possible; should reaching current targets be cheaper than expected, a floor price can ensure a minimum level of spending on abatement.

Last December, the government released a discussion paper and called for submission on the price floor, which combines a reserve price for Australian carbon units at auction with an ‘international unit surrender charge’ that ensures international carbon credits cost at least as much as domestic units. Four options are being considered for the international unit surrender charge.

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