Here in Australia we’re copying techniques from tin-pot tyrannies. When the government wants a “consensus” that they know they have no way of achieving, they fake it. People in suits declare (with no hint of irony) that Business Needs Certainty (which means: certain-taxes, guaranteed imposts, global handicaps, Mmmm. Yes. Please).
The Ultimate State of Business Certainty will be found when the idea of costing carbon is dumped for good, laughed into history, and is mocked on whatever version of Saturday Night Live is running at the time.
Frankly the case cooked up as “Business Needs Certainty (so tax us)” is an inanity-cake with cherries on top. Can we bake it in public, chop and serve it with a smile, and all enjoy the joke together?
Is anyone kidding that there is any better kind of “business certainty” than when companies know for sure they won’t be hit with unnecessary taxes based on corrupt science? How about a future where a Government guarantees to get out of the way and stay out?
Gilllard has painted herself into a corner where the only escape hatch is “a consensus” (well not just any old consensus, but a fully predetermined one — hers).
Rule number one of the Strategic Bluster is to win the argument by simply declaring you’ve won. But Advanced Bluster 101 is better: Don’t even acknowledge there was a competition in the first place — simply proceed as if Conclusion A is so obvious that there was never even a need to discuss it. Move along people. In the run-up to the election Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard tried on the idea that 150 citizens might be force-fed propaganda until they conceded or succumbed and thus produced a token community “consensus”. But the dumb punters were unimpressed. Instead Gillard has set up a quasi “authoritative” organ called the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee (which the main opposition party refused to join, making it the not-so-multi-party committee). Gillard declared that only faithful acolytes and certified witchdoctors could join the committee. No one who asks hard questions is allowed. The not-so-secret password is “A-Carbon-Price-Please!”
The Committee is starting from the position that a carbon price is a necessary economic reform required to reduce carbon pollution, to encourage investment in low emissions technologies and complement other measures including renewable energy and energy efficiency. It is also providing advice on and assisting in building community consensus for action on climate change.
In the run of the mill world of business, homes, schools and bedrooms, a “consensus” is reached – not “built” — and there’s a gulf in the difference. “Building a consensus” is a Orwellian speak for forcing people to agree with your view. They’re not building any old consensus, after all.
In the end, the main job of the MCCC is Public Relations
The government has decided already on it’s favorite atmospheric theory, it’s concluded the “best way” to deal with it, and the MCCC’s job is to be yet another tool to repeat the messages, issue press releases, and hammer the permitted theme home. It’s just another form of government advertising that the ruling class don’t have to declare, and handily, it pours money and or status to their patrons as well.
Bob Carter has replied to the latest issuance of the MCCC on Quadrant. He calls it a “pantomime performance”.
… from the UK has just come the news that, with a December temperature average of -1 deg. C, England has already had its second coldest winter since records begin in 1659 – and, if January and February continue to be cold, England may yet achieve its coldest winter in the last 1,000 years. The effective response from the British Meteorological Office (BMO) was for Director Julia Sligo to demand more funding to purchase bigger computers, saying:
It’s quite clear that if we could run our models at a higher resolution we could do a much better job — tomorrow — in terms of our seasonal and decadal predictions. It’s so frustrating. We keep saying we need four times the computing power. We’re talking just 10 or 20 million a year — dollars or pounds — which is tiny compared to the damage done by disasters.
The delusion that pouring more funds into ever more powerful computers will “solve” the climate prediction problem is chimerical….
The MCCC have dutifully met and produced 11 principles — Bob busts them all on on Quadrant but I couldn’t resist doing my small version here too:
1. Environmental effectiveness: The mechanism should be capable of delivering reductions in carbon pollution…
Pollution? There are literally hundreds of papers showing how plant life on Earth loves CO2 (Earths Biosphere is Booming), grows faster and greener, yields more food and feeds more people. So can anyone name that paper that shows that CO2 probably causes more than 1.2 degrees of warming?
2. Economic efficiency: A mechanism to price carbon should harness the most cost-effective pollution reduction options…
How many $trillion does each 0.1 degree of global cooling cost, and can we afford to run that planetary air-conditioning system?
3. Budget neutrality…
The deceptive thing about a “price” on carbon is that it sucks money from the public via corporations instead of their tax installments. It’s budget neutral for the government but budget negative for the humans.
4. Competitiveness of Australian industries: blah blah blah…
The worlds largest economies are not having a bar of this self-imposed handicap. Not China, not the US, not Japan. The price of carbon dioxide in these countries is $0. (Handily, that is the only number that is equal in all currencies. Zero US Dollars = Zero Yen, Zero Yuan, Zero Pounds Sterling, and Zero ounces of gold.)
5. Energy security: Introduction of the carbon price should be accompanied by measures that are necessary for maintaining energy security.
Destroying industry in Australia is a good way to promote energy security. We won’t be buying energy from the House of Saud if China does it for us.
6. Investment certainty: A mechanism to price carbon should provide businesses with the confidence needed to undertake long-term investments …
Here’s a radical idea: the ultimate “investment certainty” would come with a policy of a ten year guarantee of No Carbon Tax, and No Carbon Price. Cost of implementation: $0. (That number again, this is too easy).
7. Fairness: The introduction of a carbon price will affect Australian households and communities. Assistance should be provided to those households and communities most needing help to adjust to a carbon price, while striving to maintain incentives to change behavior and reduce pollution.
“Fairness” is where the government doesn’t take our money to pay for services we don’t need.
8. Flexibility: Internationally, climate change policy is continuing to evolve. A mechanism to price carbon should be sufficiently flexible …
Exactly — that’s why the last thing we need is an inflexible trading scheme. Once it’s in, it creates a vast array of vested interests and property rights. It’s damn near impossible to remove, and if the rest of the world isn’t suicidally stupid in adopting it after we do we’ll be stuck with this handicap ad infinitum.
9. Administrative simplicity: A mechanism to price carbon should be designed with a view to minimising both compliance costs and implementation risks.
To minimize the cost and risks, abolish the MCCC, abandon the carbon price, close down the Dept of Climate Change. The committee can’t possibly beat that.
10. Clear accountabilities: A mechanism with transparent scheme rules and clear accountabilities will help promote business and community confidence in carbon pricing.
Transparent and accountable? Answer one question: Where is the peer reviewed empirical evidence that net climate feedbacks are positive at current temperatures and levels of CO2?
11. Supports Australia’s international objectives and obligations: An effective global solution requires action from all major emitters… and [to] be consistent with Australia’s foreign policy and trade objectives.
Is this the coded part of the MCCC that effectively nullifies the rest? The get-out-of-jail clause “we would have done it, but the rest of the world… tut tut tut… chose not too”?
Or is this the part where they think they might actually encourage the rest of the world if we publicly castrate Australia’s economy in the name of carbon, and hope everyone else “comes to their senses”, sees how rewarding it is, and joins in the masochistic economic party?
Thus of the Eleven Principles, at least seven are met best if the Government doesn’t bring in a carbon price. (Not that that makes any difference in and of itself, since it not about principles anyway, just about the PR.)
But if our foreign policy objective is to help Chinese manufacturers, then we can’t do better than bringing in a carbon price.
Read Bob Carters reply “Combet’s Hot Air Tax”
Image Credit: Pressure cooker from tinned cast iron, made by Georg Gutbrod in Stuttgart, Germany. This picture was scanned from an article in ”Svenska Familj-Journalen”, a Swedish monthly magazine from 1864.