SMH Opinion: Carbon tax has a lot to do with the price of eggs

by ericknight

Let me reveal one of the most confusing things about climate policy. There are actually two totally separate things going on. One is the policy to try and clean up the economy. In Australia I call this the ‘Clean Up Australia’ campaign. It’s the attempt to remove carbon from the Australian energy sector. The other is the investment agenda. It is the attempt to make the world’s leading clean tech companies have a ‘Made in Australia’ sticker on them. Politicians try to conflate these two policies. The truth is that the two are totally separate.

I wrote a piece in the SMH last week which tries to shed a bit of light on the first of these issues. How much will it actually cost to clean up Australia? The truth is that this is a notoriously hard question to answer. Why? Because it is hard to predict just our competitive Australia’s energy sector really is. Until a price is introduced into the economy, it’s a┬ámug’s game trying to model how it will work.

There is, of course, an a-priori question here. It is this: do you really want to clean up the Australian economy? Phil Coorey on ABC Insiders earlier this year acknowledged what few on the left may concede – decarbonizing the Australian economy will not do an enormous amount to solve climate change. There might be other reasons you want to do it – ethical responsibility, civic virtue, political necessity. But preventing climate change is probably not your strong hard.

Where Australia may punch above it’s weight in decarbonizing the global economy is with technology. We can build the companies and incorporate the technologies which can sell energy into the global market. I have an essay in The Monthly which will come out shortly on this topic. Stay tuned. For now, enjoy this piece in last week’s SMH.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jim July 10, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Nice to think of Americans paying for Australian patent use, I bet they change the rules if it happens.

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