There had been some speculation in the press as to whether Labor would maintain its commitment to carbon pricing in the face of LNP plans to remove it.
Albanese has declared that they will.
But please note, Albanese made this declaration before a shadow cabinet meeting at which Opposition strategy was to be discussed. After the Meeting Shorten confirmed the position. It seems they will seek to implement the position they took to the election through amendments to Abbott’s legislation. They propose moving directly from the initial fixed price, moving directly to an ETS with international trading facility.
I’m not sure when Barrie Cassidy wrote his piece: it appears to predate the decision. Cassidy manages to put a leadership spin on the issue in terms of what would happen after losing the next election where he saw Shorten as vulnerable to a challenge from Plibersek if he wimped out on carbon pricing. My first reaction was to groan inwardly. Couldn’t we discuss any policy without framing it in a ‘leadershit’ context? Nevertheless Cassidy does make the interesting point that the left now essentially controls the leadership. I think the idea is that party membership is to the left, and Shorten only won because of a once off defection of some of the left in caucus to Shorten, which he thinks unlikely to happen again.
Shorten would look like a complete dill with no convictions if he changed positions from the one he put forward in the leadership context, but it raises the issue of how sensitive a leader now has to be to the views of party members on major policy issues.
The Guardian article reports on Essential Research polling:
A new Essential poll published this week showed 31% of the sample thought the carbon tax should be dumped and not replaced; 21% supported replacing it with an emissions trading scheme; 15% preferred the Liberals’ “direct action” plan; and 15% thought the government should keep the carbon tax.
Support for the tax or an ETS was highest among Labor and Greens voters, young people, and people with a university education.
Support for dumping Labor’s regime was highest among Coalition voters – but the poll showed only 28% of Coalition voters preferred the Abbott government’s “direct action” plan.
Abbott’s negative sloganeering seems to have had an effect, but there is little enthusiasm for his ‘positive’ plans, if they can be thus termed.
Another interesting point is Abbott’s use of terms of denigration, dubbing Shorten as “Electricity Bill”, or “Bill Shock Shorten”. Abbott never misses an opportunity to lower the standards of political discourse.
Meanwhile neither side is reacting with the ambition and urgency that the science demands.
27 thoughts on “Labor’s commitment to carbon pricing”
Well may you claim that the science demands “urgency” but the reality of international politics means that its pointless for us to expend a great deal of treasure or effort on such things.
The bottom line questions are:
1. What should our emission reduction target be?
2. What might have to happen to achieve this target? (Tangibles such as growth in renewable power etc.?
3. What does this mean in terms of the climate action during this term of government? (For too long we have claimed to be committed to a 2020 target while deferring the action required to meet this target to later.)
4. How should this action be driven?
The debate at the moment is being couched as a choice between a Clayton’s ETS linked to the dysfunctional EU ETS and a Clayton’s direct action plan. The ETS plan will achieve nothing over the next 3 years because the EU permit prices are too low to achieve anything. In addition, Tony has the power and the will to block anything that would raise the price of carbon high enough to drive any real action.
Parts of the direct action plan may produce results but it looks as though too much money will be wasted paying people to do things like shut down dirty power plants that were going to shut down anyway. (I have argued in the past for a competitive tendering process for supporting proposals for CO2 abatement – It may bring out some innovative approaches as well as using cost (or saving) per tonne CO2 abatement to provide a rational guide to action priorities.
I know it is a radical idea but perhaps we should look at speeding up some of the processes that Australia is already successfully using to reduce emissions. For example:
Raise the RET target: This scheme has driven the growth of utility scale renewables for years without causing any noticeable increase in the price of electricity. (In fact, the fossilized power companies are demanding a cut-back of the RET because it is pushing down wholesale power prices.) We could could double the RET renewable power target without any noticeable increase in the price of power over the next three years – Gillard would have achieved far more if she had done this instead of introducing her $23/tonne Clayton’s carbon price.
Use market forces to set the solar PV FIT. The various state FIT schemes were doing a good job of driving investment in rooftop solar. Problem is that the FIT was staying the same despite the price of panels dropping dramatically. This has given conservative governments an excuse to drop the FIT to levels they hope will kill rooftop solar investment. The ACT solar auction is being used to set the FIT for long term contracts for the supply of utility size solar. Something similar should could be used to set the price for new rooftop contracts.
Simple regulations: Turnbull’s efficient light globe regulations are a good example of what happens when simple regulations are used appropriately. Replacing a 100 watt globe with a 20 watt efficient globe that runs for 4 hrs a day saves a householder about $30/yr (2 cents/hr.) A carbon price would struggle here because the saving per hour is so trivial.)
There is more. Shorten and the greens would be wise to demand something like a doubling of the RET target or equivalent in return for dropping the carbon tax.
John D …
In the past, you and I have differed over the efficacy of explicit carbon emissions pricing. I haven’t changed my mind, but rather than bore everyone with another go around, let’s put that to one side for a moment. The political reality is that we now have a regime which has expressed itself against explicit pricing in the immediate term but still pays lipservice to a policy of local abatement and for co-ordinated global abatement action in which Australia does what most others are doing on pricing. (Yes, this is disingenuous because they will define “most others” to exclude those doing what the LNP doesn’t want to do, and not copy even what others are doing outside of pricing).
Given the new context, a focus on more ambitious RECs seems germane. Within the carbon pricing debate, the advance of carbon pricing was widely seen as rendering the need for RECs and MRETs moot. I didn’t share this view, but it was widespread. Both politically and in terms of outcomes on abatement, it seems a good option, since most people like the idea of renewables in a way that many don’t like pricing.
I made some suggestions here on how to handle motor vehicle emissions recently, and I certainly think that would be something to which we could work towards.
I remain keen on phasing out tax deductibility of dirty power.
I do think though that whatever we do ought to be ‘portable’ and capable of working corss-jurisdictionally.
PS: I do note that in SA the government is moving to deny FiT to those with rooftop PV who purchase battery storage or other means to alter their supply to redirect their output to home use during peak demand. The measure seems to be retrospective, since it applies to systems that are already installed.
Elsewhere, attempts to try this sort of thing are being abandoned, apparently.
Fran: No matter what we think of carbon pricing we can probably agree that $23/tonne wasn’t going to achieve much – The figure needed to be much closer to what I recall the Greens advocating ($60/tonne?) to have much effect.
Looking back at 6 years of Labor government the carbon price has been a major distraction. The gains have come from other things including Rudd’s raising of the RET target shortly after coming to power. Continuing to defend the carbon price for the next three years just becomes another distraction.
What really damaged Rudd when he dropped the CPRS was the lack of any alternative.
Could you ( or anyone else ) tell me the temperature difference of the planet if Australia had produced zero man made CO2 in the last 200 years?
Simple question, a number without explanation will do.
Actually, it was the very permissive cap, its narrow application to bodies emitting above 25ktCO2e and the exclusion of transport and agriculture that was the problem. Had they said it applied to every comercial business emitting above 0.5ktCO2e and pitched at reducing Australian emissions to 20% below 1990 by 2020 and not bothered with a fixed price at all and said that REDD credits could only be had for schemes that fit within the CDM then I suspect the price here would have been well above $50tCO2e …
They don’t have to. It’s probably going to remain at least until July 2015, and then it will be too late to abolish it before the next election and after that who knows.
1,000, 000 degrees.
John D, I do think a low price that is designed to escalate would change investment decisions. Brian Toohey I think at one time suggested a $5 start as a fixed price, escalating $5 every year.
We should have deferred linking to the EU scheme until it was working effectively. Linking in its present state looks like and probably is a cop-out.
BTW I read somewhere that 30/35 economists favoured an ETS. Only two favoured direct action. They didn’t say what the other three favoured. Pricing carbon, like it or not, has become a marker for whether a jurisdiction is serious about climate change. But the examples around the world that are serious don’t rely only on an ETS.
It looks like the popularity of Labor’s decision to retain the carbon tax is about to be tested with the voters of Western Australia.
If you assume that about 0.5C of the temperature rise over the past century is caused by CO2, and that Australia emitted 2% of that CO2, then our emissions have increased temperature by about 0.01C.
I do find it incredible that several million Australian’s are so stupid that they think Australian government policies can improve the climate.
It’s ok, doesn’t matter what Labor does or doesn’t do now that the natural order’s been restored.
Extreme weather events have nothing to do with climate change, there’s no longer a budget emergency, and what’s that about boats? Where?
Now that the born to rule brigade are back in power and that Labor rabble have been disposed of, there’s nothing much to worry about. No need for the PM to front the media every day with a barrage of questions, because well, there isn’t a barrage of questions, and if there were he’d just walk away, because as PM the great man has better things to do.
We’ll only have a focus on Labor when there’s a perceived problem of Labor’s creation, as with climate change policy, otherwise just stay in your place. Certainly don’t expect ‘the opposition says…’ leading ABC news bulletins anytime soon.
It’s amazing how successive Labor leaders have actually bought into this narrative, actively played along for years.
Now we’ll have Shorten becoming the invisible man, except of course when there’s an opposition ‘problem’ to exploit.
Easy mistake to make, Bill – let me fix that for you:
I do find it incredible that several million Australian’s are so stupid that they think Australian government policies can
improvehave no effect on the climate.
I initially read that it was 35/37 in favour. Others cited the lower figure, but that included non-committeds.
The two who “favoured” DA — Paul Frijters and also Craig James (of Comm Sec) didn’t argue that it would be more cost effective abatement or meet the target.
The former favoured Direct Action because in his view, it was as close to no action as Australia could get. The latter had doubts about climate change and whether Australia should be acting on it and said that “market forces can fail”.
So really, no economists supported DA as a greenhouse gas mitigation program.
Given that WA is primarily a mining state, I’m not sure it’s much of a test.
I think Labor would like the votes of unionised mining workers. There are only so many hipster electorates in Australia.
I suspect they would. It’s not at all clear that abandoning carbon pricing will win them a single one of those votes of course.
There are probably more hipster electorates than mining electorates that are winnable for the ALP, if we’re going to go all BH/GR. (Bruce Hawker/Graham Richardson). It’s also not merely ‘hipster electorates’ where ALP-inclined folk think carbon-pricing is important.
Sure, sure, who cares what bogans think anyway? We can enjoy the cutting edge cosmopolitanism of the People’s Republic of Fitzroy.
So how would you know, pray tell?
And what’s a ‘hipster electorate’ when it’s at home?
And what in heaven’s name is the connection between the ALP and these mythical hipster electorates?
Ok, I see, you’re constructing some rubbishy strawman with the flimsiest of ingredients, so I’ll leave you to it speaking as you are for the bogans of the world, who are definitely not hipsters apparently.
Terry is getting his Howard on, Adrian. You know, those inner-city elites with their chardonnay and hatred for people in ugg-boots.
I had no idea ugg boots were popular in those FIFO areas … So glad I come here to pick up stuff like that.
The longer version of my earlier point would be that Labor lost about 10% of its primary vote between 2007-2013, from 43% in 2007 to about 33% in 2013. Labor has to get its primary vote back to at least 38% for there to be a change of government in the foreseeable future.
In 2010, about 3% of that vote went from Labor to Greens, so it could be argued that Gillard needed to tack left on some policies (e.g. carbon tax) in order to try and win those voters back. In 2013, however, the decline of the Greens vote was, in percentage terms, greater than that of Labor: the lost Labor votes went either to the LNP, or to parties such as Palmer United.
Much as it may offend some sensibilities, WA voters tend to be more centre-right, and are typically not likely to favour either the carbon tax or the mining tax. In that sense, a second Senate election may well send some red lights out to Bill Shorten in his decision to stand his ground on defending the carbon tax (or I think that is what he said).
I am very surprised that people insist there is no difference between inner-city electorates and suburban/regional electorates in terms of values and attitudes to policy. It flies in the face of the findings of most of those who analyse such things. In terms of what is a “hipster” electorate, Alan Davies on Crikey has a quite good proxy measure for this, which is the number of people in the area who rise a bike to work. In Melbourne, where it is most common, it largely happens within a 5km radius of Adam Bandt’s electoral office. In Sydney, where it is less common, the Greens now poll quite poorly in seats such as Sydney and Grayndler.
I don’t suppose, as an alternative to the disappearance of hipsters and their bikes, that Adam Bandt has a higher profile as the only Greens HoR MP than, say, Hall Greenland and is perceived as having a better chance of winning than those in Grayndler and Sydney.
Hall Greenland has been around forever, and if the Greens thought that he was a suitable candidate for Grayndler, they must have known that they had no chance of winning the seat.
Approximately 100% of the candidates we run in the lower house know they have no chance of winning a seat. Candidates who have a good chance are the exception to the rule.
I’m unsure what point you’re making here. Fairly obviously, if you think someone does have a good chance of winning a seat, you’re much more likely to vote for them, or their most plausible rival, if you think they have a chance of defeating them.
Plainly too, you’re much more likely to campaign for them (or their plausible rival) if you think they are credible as winners.
Economists tend to see changing prices as the first (and only?) option for changing behaviour. So it is hardly surprising most of them prefer carbon pricing to direct action, particularly if the direct action they are talking about is the LNP version of direct action.
It is worth remembering that the things that have actually helped reduce emissions in Aus include:
Regulation – think Malcolm’s world leading light globe efficiency regulations.
The RET offset credit trading scheme – This system forces dirty power producers to subsidize clean electricity.
Contract to supply approaches such as the FIT and the ACT solar auction scheme.
Given that the $23/ tonne carbon tax increased power prices while all the others actually reduced household power prices perhaps it is time we stopped believing economists or at least understood their bias.
Fran @ 13, clearly the story I heard on economists’ attitudes was severely truncated.
Terry @ 21, Shorten is in no way defending a carbon tax. The policy is to go directly to a trading system.
From Pricing carbon: the politics of climate policy in Australia:
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