Why the ETS was bad news for Australia


So today the Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme [pdf] was voted down in the Senate.

Before we get into it, I’d encourage you to (if interested) take a look through the official documentation on record from Parliament.  If you’ll note, the Senate amendments look like they were aimed at driving down some of the figures which signifies there was to some extent an attempt to broaden the appeal of the bill up to the recent vote. 

Now, into the meat of it.  This is a scheme which will cost you money and given polluters will likely pass the cost onto consumers, it’s likely going to sting you twice.

We are suckers for a good cause, as evidenced by the uptake of household water saving features, even though statistics and more statistics and official statistics show that commercial, agricultural and industrial water use outstrips household use by a massive factor.  In fact, according to the National Water Commission, household water consumption is only 11% of our total national use!

So why are we slugged another tax for a system/scheme where it is commonly accepted (and, in fact mentioned in Senate minutiae – “meet the expected increase in the cost of living flowing from the scheme.”) that industry is going to pass on the cost to consumers anyway?  Not to mention if any money would have been paid to polluters, which I disagree with on ethical grounds.

We’ve already faced massive surges [QLD | QLD increase of 11% for 2009 | increases in WA ] in the cost of electricity, this is just another excuse to slug tax payers and households and, honestly, this is going too far.  We’re already amongst the most taxed nations in the world and it’s time to say enough is enough.

There is no International consensus on a realistic approach to managing carbon emissions – which is why no other country in the world has a working emissions scheme at the moment.  Also keep in mind that Australia is only responsible for about 1% of the world’s total carbon emissions, just keep it in mind.

In fact, since there is no International consensus on carbon emissions or how to implement a meaningful trading scheme, so why were we thundering ahead with a scheme which is only guaranteed to create a new bureaucracy in Canberra, and guaranteed to cost tax payers more money with no guarantee it will actually achieve any outcome?

Australia, I’m only going to say this once: you are being distracted from the real issues.

Industry is responsible for the majority of electricity and water consumption.  Industry is also mostly responsible for pollution in this country, be it agricultural or primary industry (e.g. mining).  Industry should be paying to clean up the mess, and Industry should be made to reduce its consumption of resources. 

Households contribute only a minor percentage of pollution and resource consumption and yet we pay through the nose both as consumers and as tax payers.  This has got to stop.

But wait.. don’t we have to do something?  This has been the catch-cry of ETS supporters from the very beginning.  My rebuttal would be – shouldn’t we have been doing something about this 10-20 years ago? 

The answer is – no.  We shouldn’t be rushing out to pass legislation without careful consideration.  Do you think a scheme passed into law today would take immediate effect?  No, of course it wouldn’t.  Knee jerk reactions aren’t going to save our environment, and there are no prizes for being the first country to have an ETS.

We need to work with our sister nations to determine how to combat climate change as a community of nations, Australia isn’t going to combat this on our own.  We need realistic options backed by some confidence that what we do will actually have some measurable impact on climate change.  The ETS voted down today had none of those points.

More Reading:

[ ABC ]
[ Skeptical Science ]
[ The Land ]
[ How the ETS would have worked ]


About Rob Sanders

IT Professional and TOGAF 9 certified architect with nearly two decades of industry experience, 18 years in commercial software development and 11 years in IT consulting. Check out the "About Rob" page for more information.

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