[LINK] Nuclear power stations.

Chris Maltby chris at sw.oz.au
Sun Mar 20 14:32:50 AEDT 2011

> On 20/03/2011 9:05 AM, Tom Worthington wrote:
>> The brains behind the Australian government's carbon pricing proposals
>> (who are mostly from ANU) suggest most of the carbon tax money be given
>> back as tax cuts and pension increases. Some funding would be used on
>> projects for energy saving and renewable energy. The cost of petrol and
>> electricity will go up proportional to the carbon emissions they
>> produce. This will lower consumption and encourage investment in energy
>> saving and renewable production. Professor Garnaut favours a gradual
>> price increase:
>> <http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/initiatives/multi-party-committee/carbon-price-framework.aspx>.
>> My suggestion would be a high initial carbon price allowing a large tax
>> cut and welfare increases, under the slogan: "Great Big Carbon Tax Cuts
>> for Everyone":
>> <http://blog.tomw.net.au/2011/03/great-big-carbon-tax-cuts-for-everyone.html>.
On Sun, Mar 20, 2011 at 10:14:05AM +1100, Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
> Bjorn Lomborg thinks that making carbon more expensive is dumb, very 
> expensive and won't actually solve the problem.
> see Bjorn Lomborg: A smarter approach to climate change
> http://www.abc.net.au/rn/counterpoint/stories/2011/3160416.htm#transcript
> I tend to support Bjorn's approach - i.e. make sure you are solving the 
> problem. He says - make green energy cheaper, not carbon more expensive 
> - so spend money on R&D.

Bjorn is a favourite of the Counterpoint people and is a shameless self
promoter, but he usually has some half-truths to peddle.

The question in this case is whether you can get the result you want
(significant carbon abatement) purely by adjusting the price signals in
the (supposedly) free market for energy. It's clear to almost everyone
that price signals alone won't be enough to do it, especially when the
signals will be attenuated by compensation packages and explicit or
implicit subsidies to the emissions intensive energy producers and users.

Note that Bjorn's "make it cheaper" is also a price signal method, so
the underlying question there is how best to do it, and who will outlay
the cash. I have no problems with supporting renewable energy R&D, but
that doesn't mean we shouldn't start work on lots of fronts.

The obvious one is the removal/redirection of the billions of dollars
that subsidise fossil fuel (over-)use in Australia. And if dumping CO2
into the atmosphere imposes costs on others, then it makes sense to
recover those costs from the dumpers, via a tax perhaps.

If your political philosophy (or self interest) requires that you not
increase social inequality by jacking up relative energy prices, then
you should do your best to offer compensation for those rises that
maximises options for the socially disadvantaged to reduce consumption
of the commodity without impacting on their living standards. That's
where cheaper renewable power would be playing a part, but alongside
support for replacement of inefficient appliances, passive heating and
cooling systems, etc etc.

I'm not sure that cutting tax generally would be the best way to
do it, but it may make it saleable to those who pretend they are
economically disadvantaged but vote...


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