Posted by: Barry Bickmore | October 12, 2011

Carbon Price Implemented in Australia

They called in Christopher Monckton once more, but this time His Lordship got his clock cleaned by the Australian media.  They were sharpening the knives even before his plane took off.  And this time, at least, Monckton and his troupe of people-who-have-a-hard-time-telling-the-truth lost.  Australia just put a modest price on carbon emissions.  (NOTE TO MONCKTON’S LAWYERS:  Notice how I didn’t say “liars”.  I have no idea whether Monckton really believes he’s a member of Parliament, and believes that all those scientists he cites really agree with how he uses their work.  I just know that neither is true.)  Graham Redfearn has the story.


  1. Well, technically it’s only passed the House so far, but should be smooth sailing through the Senate and signed into law this year. Australia’s now pulled ahead of the US on climate mitigation. We still have Canada as buddies in do-nothingness though!

  2. I don’t think you need to worry about Monckton’s lawyers. He keeps threatening to sue, but last time I looked he hadn’t actually sued anyone. My guess is: either he’s lying about that too, or he’s wasting his money on paying lawyers to tell him he doesn’t have a hope.

    • Yeah, but he doesn’t just threaten me, he threatens my university (even though this is my personal blog), and then I have to go listen to the dean ask me not to use language like “fraud” and “liar” that might give him an excuse (even though they don’t think he has a real case). I’ve never felt like he was causing me any real problems, but I don’t want to drag others into it.

  3. The Prime Minister of Australia during the last election.

    • Imagine–a politician who goes back on her campaign promises. I’m glad I live in America, where that never happens!

      • At least she’s going back on a campaign promise in order to do the right thing. Pretty much the opposite of American politicians, who promise the world during campaigns and then deliver nothing when in office. I seem to recall a certain candidate Obama who said he was going to get a system in place to reduce US CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.

      • Imagine – a country that emits less than 1.5% of man-made CO2 yet has decided to not only impose a tax on it, but to then hand most of it back to industries/individuals effected by this the most. A massive pointless money churn. Three cheers for bureaucracy.

        • Do Australians really buy that ‘only 1.5% of emissions’ argument? I mean, you’ve got one of the highest per capita emissions rates in the world. The only reason you’re 1.5% is your small population.

          Do you really want to argue that Australia is too small to matter? Seems like a counter-productive argument to me.

          • Can you please refer me to any climate model that determines climate sensitivity due to increasing CO2 per capita, and not total CO2.

            • That’s not the point Colin. Almost every country/region/state/individual can make the “my emissions are small” argument. It’s a cop out. *Everyone* needs to take action to reduce emissions. And it’s an especially bogus argument when your per capita emissions are among the highest in the world. Try taking some personal responsibility.

              Like I said, it’s nothing more than saying “our population is small, so we don’t matter.” If that’s the case, why should anybody pay any attention to Australia on any issue whatsoever? You’re telling us you don’t matter on a global scale. To me it’s a case of *open mouth, insert foot*. I can understand Monckton making the argument (which he did), because he’s not Australian, and doesn’t care if nobody pays attention to Australia. But for Australians to make the argument (assuming you’re Australian) is shooting yourselves in the foot.

            • Sorry Dana, but only countries that emit low amounts of total CO2 can claim that “my emissions are small”. Per capita emissions are irrelevant. Instead of mixing your metaphors can you please explain how a country with low total emissions as Australia has, needs to go through the economic pain of increased taxation for no measurable (hypothetical) environmental benefits.

              Barry, here in Australia we are being constantly feed the “we need to do it to save the planet, do it for our children etc” mantra as a reason for this tax (not to mention this government couldn’t organise a booze-up in brewery without screwing it up). But as Australia is an energy intensive economy without the reliable baseload power options of other countries, this will have a noticable economic impact on the country. So what I’m asking is, what will be the supposed environmental benefits of the pain we in Australia are about to go through soon?

      • Can you refer me to any climate model in which the total CO2 is not affected by the CO2 emitted by individual countries?

      • Colin, the benefits DO depend on what others do. But since everyone is standing around saying, “I’m not doing it until you do it,” I guess somebody ought to just do it, and use it as a bargaining chip. The U.S. ought to be the one to lead out, because we have high per capita AND high total emissions, but our response is being delayed by dishonest tactics.

        • What do you exactly mean by a bargaining chip? Threatening trade protection? Also, what dishonest tactics are you referring to? Approval of loans to Solyndra perhaps.
          Utahn, I’m not sure how imposing a tax on carbon in Australia and the negligible reduction in man-made global CO2 emissions has to do with stealing.

      • Colin, I’ll make it clearer. If Australia is doing the wrong thing (emitting C02 in high levels when we now know we should be cutting back), and the USA and China and others are doing even more of the wrong thing, isn’t it still the wrong thing? What happened to doing the right thing? What happened to leading by example?

      • No reliable baseload power options? Are you serious? Australia has tons of sunny, empty land space. You should be a world leader in solar thermal power. And from what I’ve heard, you’ve got some good geothermal potential too.

        As for supposed economic pain, a carbon tax will benefit your economy. Carbon emissions are an economic externality – you pay their costs indirectly (especially Australia with all your drought problems) even though you don’t pay them in the price of electricity or fuel. That’s why the vast majority of economists favor some sort of carbon pricing mechanism. It allows the free market to reflect the true costs of the fuel you consume, and thus people can weight those true costs in their purchasing decisions.

        Anyway, I recall reading that the Aussie carbon tax will be more than offset by other tax cuts, in which case it wouldn’t even directly impact individuals economically.

        • Dana, Australia has always had extremes in weather and will always have extremes in weather. Is anyone able to quantify the economic gain from putting a price on carbon, particularly in Australia? Solar isn’t anywhere near being a reliable baseload supply of power. Also, geothermal has been tried here for years unsuccessfully, ignoring the fact most of these projects are no where near any capital cities. Trust me, the price of electricity will go up further than it already has since the implementation of the 20% renewable target a couple of years ago (amongst other policies). In addition, if you believe that most of the tax on carbon will be offset by tax cuts to assist individuals heavily affected, then where is the incentive to reduce your carbon footprint? It will lead to increased bureaucracy, for no economic or environmental gain.

          Barry, but what if the other countries do nothing and trade exposed countries feel the economic pain and the standard of living reduces. We aren’t do as well in Australia as we like to think we are. We certainly could do without another tax. On the flipside to what you said about disinformation, we have a fair share of mainstream media here that is fairly sycophantic to most CAGW stories so it does swing both ways.

          Utahn, when is <1.5% high?

      • “Australia has always had extremes in weather and will always have extremes in weather.”

        So I guess there’s no problem in forcing more droughts to happen in Australia then. Tell that to farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin.

        “Is anyone able to quantify the economic gain from putting a price on carbon”

        Yes. Cost benefit analyses of similar legislation proposed in the US put the benefits at about 2 to 8 times larger than the costs, for example.

        “Solar isn’t anywhere near being a reliable baseload supply of power”

        Tell that to Spain, where it already is.

        “if you believe that most of the tax on carbon will be offset by tax cuts to assist individuals heavily affected, then where is the incentive to reduce your carbon footprint?”

        The offsets will be distributed evenly. Thus if you reduce your carbon emissions more than the average, the result is a net gain – you make money from the carbon tax.

        “It will lead to increased bureaucracy, for no economic or environmental gain.”

        False, unsubstantiated assertion.

        “what if the other countries do nothing”

        Europe has had a carbon emissions trading system in place since 2005. China will have a cap and trade system in place by 2015. It’s too late to ask what if other countries do nothing – several already are.

        • Dana, there hasn’t been a trend in droughts or floods in Australia since reliable records have been made. The lack of water in the Murray-Darling basin is mostly due to the increased water intensive agriculture that is there.

          You will have to excuse me if I put as much faith in economic modelling as I do climate modelling.

          Spain has 20% unemployment. I would be very sceptical in following in their footsteps.

          How can it NOT lead to increased bureaucracy? Pure fantasy to believe otherwise.

          Obviously what China does or doesn’t do in regards to a cap and trade scheme (or similar) will have ramifications for us in Australia. 2015 is 4 years away. That is at least one election away over here so don’t be surprised if the governments lack of mandate on this is exposed at the polls.

          • Spain also has paella, which is delicious, so I would be very skeptical of not following in their footsteps.

            • Haha, muy bien amigo.

      • “when is <1.5% high?"

        When it should be < 0.15%.

        Like I said, what happened to doing the right thing?

        You seem to be trying to ignore the question of what is right, by quibbling about percentages…

        • Utahn, so if the rest of the world increase their emissions 10 fold, Australia falls within your acceptable “doing the right thing” range?

      • Of course! You can only control what you do, and perhaps hope to lead by example.

        Is your estimation of whether you should do the right thing derived from your estimation of how much if the wrong things others are doing?

        Do we arrive at our morals by counting?

    • The funny thing is, people make that argument all the time even in the USA, because China and India will account for so much CO2. It’s kind of like saying “it’s ok if I steal this 1000$, because that other guy stole 10,000$.” Whatever happened to doing the right thing, and leading by example?

  4. Colin,

    By “bargaining chip” I mean a show of good faith or earnest money, so to speak. It’s easier to convince other countries to do something when you’re already doing it on a limited scale.

    By “dishonest tactics,” I mean the incessant campaign to convince people that there is no scientific consensus, and so on. E.g., look at my recent posts about my hometown newspaper, The Daily Herald. They are running a disinformation campaign, and there’s no way around it.

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