The carbon tax is now here. Is this the right way ahead for Australia?
Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, tells of a boy forced to plead to a magistrate to save himself from what was a very dirty and dangerous job in 17th century London – cleaning soot from the city’s carbon-encrusted chimneys.
That’s right, soot is carbon, a black, non-metallic solid, standing at number six in the periodic table.
But it’s not black carbon which is the focus of the punishing tax dumped on all Australians on Sunday.
The so-called carbon tax is actually a tax on a colourless, odourless, incombustible gas exhaled by animals and used by plants in photosynthesis called carbon dioxide.
Despite vast evidence to the contrary, pushers of this dishonestly named tax claim CO2 emitted by human activities is warming the planet like never before.
But these are false claims and provably so by modern climate science observations.
At the last election, Ms Gillard said: “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”.
She knew there was a great deal of scepticism in Australia about the benefits of taxing CO2 and the electorate would rightly see such a tax as just another money grab.
But her ruse was successful and immediately after the election the Labor/Greens alliance announced plans to impose a punishing new tax on CO2 emissions.
Labor hopes its tax will rapidly increase the price of electricity, making it too expensive to use regardless of the damage to our economy and household budgets.
By making electricity unaffordable for many, Labor aims to reduce Australia’s emissions to five per cent below their level in the year 2000 by 2020 and to 80 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050 to “save the planet”.
Even if this is achieved, it will be a futile gesture.
If Australia completely stopped producing CO2 from Sunday, there’d be no change in global temperatures.
Our CO2 reduction will be swallowed up in a few days by China’s increasing billions of tonnes of CO2 emitted each year.
An audit of China’s emissions revealed it understates its total CO2 emissions by 20 per cent each year – an amount equal to Japan’s total annual emissions.
A staggering discovery which means Labor and the Greens’ tax is truly complete nonsense.
The tax will destroy the last remaining advantage our manufacturing sector gains from our cheap reliable coal-fired power, even as our international competitors are pouring cash into coal and gas fired power generation. Germany is building 17 new coal-burning and 29 new gas-fired power stations, including a giant 2100MW brown coal plant.
China is building more coal-fired plants every week, including the world’s largest black-coal fired power-station with an enormous 8000MW output.
That’s about half of the power to run the entire east coast of Australia.
Victoria’s power companies have already announced a 14 per cent hike in our electricity bills from July 1 because of the tax.
This will force up the cost of food, transport, water and sewerage, education, sport, clothing and even a night out in Bendigo’s proposed new theatre.
Even the price of bricks has gone up thousands of dollars per house, making a first home an even more distant dream for our kids.
And that’s before factoring in the price increases caused by the CO2 tax on glass, steel, aluminium, roofing tiles and concrete.
As Sunday’s tax looms ever closer, we can only wonder how many more of our community’s most vulnerable people will be tipped over the edge into energy poverty and be forced to live in cold homes, which will have a devastating impact on their health.
All for no benefit to our environment.
Charles Dickens was not just a novelist, he also worked as a journalist and social commentator often challenging hypocrisy, corruption, oppression and inequality – he’d have rich pickings among the words uttered by today’s Labor Greens’ alliance.
By Karen Corr
The introduction of the carbon price is the beginning of a new and much needed era.
Like anything new, there is a lot of fear and trepidation about it. And that’s understandable, this new era is going to require us to change the way we use energy. For some that will be a challenge, others are already well and truly heading in that direction and reaping the benefits.
Our region can benefit greatly if we take up the challenge, and here’s how.
The carbon price, which is one part of the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Future package, requires the top 294 most energy intensive organisations in Australia to pay $23 per tonne of carbon pollution.
This money goes to people as tax cuts and assistance payments, protecting the environment and investment in clean energy.
As individuals we can put the compensation towards energy efficiency and household solar, reducing our power bill and saving quite a bit of money annually. Lots of people are already doing this.
Like Tony from Castlemaine, who after retrofitting his house now has a quarterly electricity bill under $12.
You can see more examples at Refit ‘n’ Save (http://refitnsave.org.au/) and Goldfields SolarHub (http://www.goldfieldssolarhub.org.au/about/).
In terms of business, the carbon tax has been talked about for quite a while, and many companies are already responding.
A recent analysis by GE’s Economist Intelligence Unit in a survey of 136 senior Australian business executives showed that almost three quarters of businesses already have a carbon reduction strategy in place. Of the firms directly affected by carbon pricing 85 per cent have a carbon reduction strategy in place and more than half have set up dedicated roles or teams to identify greater energy efficiency measures internally.
There are a lot of opportunities for businesses in our region to take advantage of the new energy challenge.
Like the $700,000 Energy Efficiency Program Grant that the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance just received from the Australian Government to help small and medium enterprises improve energy efficiency in our region or the government’s $1.2 billion Clean Technology Program that has been set up to help directly improve energy efficiency in manufacturing industries and support research and development in low pollution technologies.
There are many opportunities for our local economy to benefit.
We don’t have many fossil fuel jobs in our region. There are a lot of power losses between Loyang and here.
If we’re smart about it, the Clean Energy Fund can stimulate local renewable energy generation and therefore the local economy.
There are opportunities for farmers through a Carbon Farming Initiative that will provide new economic rewards for farmers and landholders that take steps to reduce carbon pollution and grant opportunities for local councils and community organisations to retrofit or upgrade community-use facilities.
Not to mention the potential benefits to local production or the long-term health and environmental benefits for our region.
So is taking up this challenge worth it for our region? Absolutely it is.
The introduction of the carbon price is just the beginning of a much greater shift to a new energy era that is already happening all over the world.
Let’s take up the opportunities on offer and really make the challenge worth our while.