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Entries in policy (25)

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.)

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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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Thursday
Mar292012

State Climate Schemes Are Still Worthwhile under a Carbon Price

In justifying their recent abandonment of state-based climate schemes, the governments of Queensland and Victoria have both claimed that the schemes will be redundant under the federal emissions trading scheme (ETS) that begins in July. Yet this justification is only a smokescreen, as a carbon price can well exist with other environmental and climate schemes.

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Monday
Jan022012

The Fundamental Question on Asylum Seekers

Australia’s dog of a policy on asylum seekers – at least, those arriving by boat – appears set to be a continued topic of political discussion this year, so I’d like to echo the sentiments of Guy Rundle as expressed just before Christmas:

The Australian asylum seeker discussion is wrongly framed. As signatories to the Refugee Convention, we have a categorical moral imperative to allow any potential refugees that reach our shores to claim asylum; this is their right.

However, the policy debate revolves around whether we can

“wholly negate someone’s rights (that we have explicitly promised them), in a situation where their life and freedom will be wholly annihilated indefinitely, all as a strategy for dissuading unknown future persons from making a possibly perilous journey.

By that definition we are using the ‘deterrent’ — the people locked up for years on Manus, Nauru, in Malaysia, or god knows where — as a means to a utilitarian end. It is a clear use of human beings in their totality, as means to other ends, and cannot in any sense ground a moral policy.

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Thursday
Nov032011

IETA GHG Market Report 2011

The 2011 report on the state of greenhouse gas markets by the International Emissions Trading Association begins with a chapter on Australia, of which I am the lead author.

The report is available online.

Thursday
Sep292011

Details of the Clean Energy Future Package

The Clean Energy Future legislation is lengthy and boring, but it’s important: these 18 bills (and a few more to come in the first half of next year) lay the framework for what will be the primary driver of Australia’s attempt to mitigate dangerous anthropogenic climate change – assuming they pass, of course. This post is a summary of some of the CEF’s nitty-gritty details.

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Sunday
Aug072011

What Are the Visions of Australia’s Future Reflected in Our Parties’ Policies?

When the Government released its climate change package on July 10, it was under the moniker of a “Clean Energy Future”. This is, ostensibly, a fairly clear vision for where Labor sees Australia in 2050 and beyond. However, the package is a mish-mash of measures that don’t deliver clear policy signals to achieve this clean energy future. While this is partially a result of the multi-party committee that spawned the package, the rhetoric the Government employs is ambiguous as to precisely what sort of society they see Australia moving toward.

So where are we really going with all this? If the world follows the suggestions of science and reduces CO2-e emissions to constrain dangerous climate change, what place is this future do our parties foresee?

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Tuesday
Jul192011

Floor Pricing for Alcohol

A journalist whose views I usually respect today derided calls for an increase in the minimum price of alcohol as coming from the “killjoy” crowd, who “do not even attempt to … estimate the value of the pleasure given by alcohol to the vast majority of Australians who do not abuse it.”

This is balderdash. As with gambling, the problem is not with what the vast majority of Australians do, but with the problematic excesses of a few. In the case of alcohol, it is the problem of those who purchase litres of cask wine at 30c per standard drink and proceed to destroy their health and lives. Prevalently, these are people of lower socio-economic status, especially Aborigines. Coles, Woolworth, and IGA have already almost quadrupled this minimum price in Alice Springs by selling alcohol at no less than $1.14 per standard drink, without affecting the prices of beer, spirits, better wines, etc – the stuff the vast majority of Australians actually drink.

The Henry Review suggested that the final rate of volumetric tax should “be intended solely to optimise price signals facing consumers. It should be set without regard to the government’s fiscal position, and irrespective of any specific spending commitments related to alcohol abuse” (Australia’s Future Tax System, Chapter E5-3, 2010).

Floor pricing for alcohol is a sensible health proposal that deserves support, not to be dismissed out of hand as coming from the “killjoy” crowd.

Tuesday
Jul052011

Carbon Pricing: The Big Picture

Updated on Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 18:58 by Registered CommenterMCJ

Updated on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 10:25 by Registered CommenterMCJ

To stabilise the concentration of CO2-e in the atmosphere at levels that would limit the chance of 2°C warming to 75% or less, the world must emit less than 3 tCO2-e per person per year; less than 2 tCO2-e to stop concentrations rising altogether. No-one is pretending that a domestic carbon price of $20-$30 per tonne will reduce Australian emissions from 25 tCO2-e pa to anywhere near two or three tonnes per year.

A balance must be struck between the need to decarbonise the Australian economy and the transitional difficulties that this will bring. Government policy, with the MPCCC’s scheme as its centrepiece, will – and should – be scrutinised on how disruptive the transition will be. But this disruption must be assessed in the long-term context of decreasing our CO2-e production, or else it’s merely politics, not policy.

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Monday
May302011

Simple Visual Guide to Internalising Greenhouse Gas Pollution

My contribution to this week’s National Week of Action by the “Say Yes” campaign is the following simplified visual explanation of how a carbon tax/ETS would make the price of products reflect their true (environmental) costs.


Internalising pollution externalities with a carbon price: a simplified visual guide