There’s only one justification for a carbon tax–or any other measure with the same purpose

And that is that  Climate Change is a real and serious issue, and that all governments, enterprises and individuals have to take effective action for the sake of future generations.  Just a year ago this seemed plain, apparently, even down here in Carbon Central Wollongong.

As that item said:

Angry scenes were sparked in Crown St Mall yesterday when an anti-carbon tax rally by Coalition firebrands Barnaby Joyce and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells was outnumbered by supporters of the carbon price.  With hecklers, placards and two of the Coalition’s most unpredictable figures, a quiet lunchtime became a theatre of old-fashioned political argy-bargy, with few of the players lacking the voice to make themselves heard…

HALF of all Illawarra residents would be happy to fork out for higher power bills, if it helped slow climate change, the latest IRIS Research survey has found.  In a poll of 500 people concluded last week, IRIS asked those surveyed if they would pay more for energy sources, such as petrol, electricity and gas, if it slowed climate change. Just over half said they would be in favour of doing so, despite predictions of massive job losses in the region at the hands of a carbon tax. The result is the biggest indication yet the Gillard government may be winning over the Illawarra in its bid to sell the carbon tax to "Carbon Central". Only last week British newspaper The Guardian dubbed the Illawarra Carbon Central, thanks to our two economic pillars of coal mining and steelmaking.

IRIS executive director Simon Pomfret said the figures showed a strong willingness to absorb some of the costs associated with tackling climate change…

The IRIS survey results came on the same day as Coalition agitators Barnaby Joyce and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells rolled into Crown St Mall to spruik their anti-carbon tax message at a rally.

13-14 July 2011 that was, and now the tax is with us and it appears the plot has been lost since.

The justification – that Climate Change is a real issue – ought to be uncontroversial by now surely, but no. Brilliant scientific minds like Alan Jones and seedy eccentrics like Lord M*n*t*n the Litigious – unless he is now too distracted by curing cancer and proving Obama is not American – still have influence way beyond the merit of their arguments and the highly questionable evidence they deploy and corrupt. When I saw Simon smashing his head into the desk on #QandA last night I thought at first he was merely enacting my own reaction to Grahame Morris’s unbelievably fatuous remarks about Climate Change and – would you believe – his personalising the issue as all down to that “log” Al Gore, a ploy of the desperate and ignorant in my book!

See also my post How to pick a climate site that’s not worth reading.

1. It thinks global warming is all about Al Gore.

2. It thinks every scientific organisation in the world from the Royal Society down is in a massive conspiracy to destroy capitalism.

3. It takes Lord Monckton seriously.

4. It touts some pipsqueak or other simply because they cherry-pick “proofs” climate change is not happening.

5. It thinks all the measurements from NASA or elsewhere are somehow rigged.

6. It sees climate science as a racket whose sole aim is garnering research grants.

7. Checking the site’s fine print shows it is a front for powerful energy interests or right-wing US think tanks.

8. It believes the “Oregon Petition” is genuine.

9. It displays the most egregious ignorance of the well-established physics behind climate theory.

10. It has no idea about the concept of “certainty” and the scientific method.

Morris appears to be an unreconstructed troglodyte on all counts – as well as a potty-mouth in the past re Julia Gillard.

Or perhaps it was the proximity of Sophie Mirabella – surely one of the most grating personalities on either side of politics today, and she does run off at the mouth before her brain quite gets into gear.

But no, the guy just collapsed.

As The Australian goes on to report this morning:

Mr Sheikh was assisted offstage to his wife, environmental activist Anna Rose, who tweeted from backstage: "Thanks everyone for your concern for Simon. Ambulance has just arrived."

The activist was taken to hospital for what Jones later described as a check-up.

The program continued as scheduled with regular updates on Mr Sheikh’s progress. Signing off, Jones told viewers: "He’s gone to hospital, we believe he’s OK, he’s feeling light-hearted and, of course, we wish him, as always, the very best."

Minutes later, Mr Sheikh provided his own health update via Twitter. "For those watching Q&A sorry I couldn’t stay — I’m in hospital, thanks for all your support," he tweeted.

By the time Q&A had finished airing, a video of the entire incident had already appeared on video-sharing website YouTube.

An account of the incident had also appeared on Wikipedia, including a completely false account of Mr Sheikh’s death.

All very dramatic.

Now I honestly couldn’t care less about Julia Gillard having changed her mind about the Carbon Tax, or even why she did so, if the outcome is a policy that really could do some good. Now there is a debate to be had about that, of course. 

SBS has some excellent coverage of these matters. In particular it is well worth looking at Factbox: Carbon taxes around the world.  What the government is actually trying to do is outlined here. It makes a lot more sense than most of the hype and bullshit that has been vomited in opposition, and makes more sense, unfortunately, than the government itself too often has. In the future – and not very far into it either – we will see clearly what a lot of tripe there has been around this matter! Tripe that also masks, would you believe, quite a lot of agreement, as Andrew Ure notes in today’s Herald!

You might think the major parties don’t agree on anything when it comes to climate change. But they do. In fact, they agree on a lot (though they might not admit it).

For starters, both parties argue that climate change is real, and that Australians need to act. The same cannot be said for many voters of both persuasions.

Crucially, both parties have made an unconditional commitment to reduce Australia’s emissions by the same amount (5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020).

This is significant in two ways: firstly, they agree on the scale of emissions reductions that Australia should undertake (at least at a minimum); secondly they agree that there is a degree of climate change action that Australia should take, irrespective of what happens elsewhere.

Moreover, while you could live under a rock and still know that the Coalition opposes the government’s carbon pricing mechanism, few people realise that both parties share their support for particular approaches to reducing emissions.

The Coalition will likely release more details closer to an election, but based on its direct action plan and public statements, and the government’s public record, we can build a picture of what is likely to survive regardless of the colour of the government…

Politics just sucks! Or even suck!

See also Tim Colebatch: The economists got it right, that’s the truth.

Mahinda Siriwardana, Sam Meng  and Judith McNeill of the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy  at the University of New England have a paper of some interest: PDF The Impact of a Carbon Tax on the Australian Economy: Results from a CGE Model. 

The Australian government has announced to price carbon at an initial price of $23 per tonne. Despite detailed modelling undertaken by the Commonwealth Treasury, there is widespread  speculation  about  the  possible  economic  impact  of  a  carbon  tax  in Australia.  In  this  paper  we  build  a  computable  general  equilibrium  (CGE)  model incorporating  many  new  features  to  deal  with  the  issue  of  emissions  and  model  the impact of carbon taxes. The analysis undertaken by simulating the impact of a carbon tax of $23 a tonne reveals some interesting outcomes. For example, in the short run, Australia’s  real  GDP  may  decline  by  0.68  percent,  consumer  prices  may  rise  by  0.75 percent, and the price of electricity may increase by about 26 percent as a result of the tax. Nevertheless it allows Australia to make a substantial cut in its CO2 emissions. The simulation results imply an emission reduction of about 12 percent in its first year of operation. The tax burden is unequally distributed among different household groups with low-income households carrying a relatively higher burden.

The compensation package is an attempt to address the last point. Nice to see, though, that this study does acknowledge the measure will in fact have an environmental impact.

See also The Good News About The Carbon Tax by Ben Eltham.

Did you know electricity use is falling? Or that household solar is almost at cost parity? Carbon pricing is changing the economy for the better, even if we’d rather pretend otherwise, writes Ben Eltham

Like an alternative universe in a science-fiction story, it’s the same familiar world we knew on Saturday, but with a few strange differences.

For starters, Australia’s largest polluters now have to pay a small charge for the right to dump toxic gases into the atmosphere. For my mind, that’s a win for Australian society on a moral level, immediately and transparently. No-one has a natural right to despoil the environment, not even local councils with a particularly gassy rubbish dump, and least of all the large and profitable corporations that own aluminium smelters or coal-burning electricity generators.

The moral imperative of taxing carbon pollution is an argument the government and the environment movement has comprehensively lost, and more’s the pity. Carbon regulation is a great milestone for progressive legislation in this country, every bit as important as workplace health and safety laws or universal healthcare. Unfortunately, the government folded on the moral argument for carbon pricing when Kevin Rudd decided to backflip on the emissions trading scheme back in early 2010. When he abandoned the "greatest moral challenge", he also traded away most of his own moral credibility, and set the scene for his own downfall.

Labor’s regularly faltering courage on climate policy has been tactically disastrous…