The Australian Government’s Climate Change Minister Greg Combet at the National Press Club today insists that the world will indeed agree to binding targets for emissions cuts by 2020.
No doubt about it, he says. That’s why it’s critical that we prepare now with a carbon tax, rather than face a sudden shock of adjustment in eight years.
But if Combet is sure there will be a deal, many others are certainly not:
The world has no chance of sealing an emissions cut deal unless companies lobby their governments for an accord, the UN climate chief told the global business elite in Davos on Thursday.
“Even though governments have said in Durban ‘yes we’re going to dedicate the next three years to negotiating and agreeing by 2015 a new legally binding agreement’, let’s be very clear, that is not going to happen,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“That is not going to happen merely from the top down perspective. That is only going to happen if it’s bottom up, if the private sector moves in.
“Unless you have this from the bottom up, unless you have very powerful pressure from consumers, from private sector, from civil society to governments to say yes, this is what we want, as a humankind this is what we want, it’s not going to happen because it’s just too big,” she added.
Combet is not being frank. Any deal will be negotiated after the next US presidential election. Who is to say the Republicans won’t win and say even more clearly “no”? Who is to say Europe won’t be even deeper in economic strife by then, and even less likely to sign up?
Combet is spinning furiously. The pity is that he’s banking our economy on a bet on a deal that seems at long odds.
The carbon tax will generate many, many such stories between now and the election, inflicting on Labor a thousand cuts:
The state’s largest energy retailer, AGL, … has written to the Essential Services Commission of SA applying for an increase in prices to cover the cost of the carbon tax.
“If the application is approved, it allows for an increase in the average SA householder’s electricity bill of around $150 to cover the carbon price impact on electricity retailers,” an AGL spokesman said. It is expected the commission will make a decision on the application by mid-June…
Other retailers will also pass on the carbon tax burden to householders, with Origin Energy saying yesterday it was still “crunching the numbers” but estimated a 10 per cent hike to its customers’ annual electricity bills from July 1.
Then there’s the increase in the price of everything made with that power, and the job losses of firms made uncompetitive…
Professor Sinclair Davidson notes that a 10 per cent rise in power bills in just the first year is not what Treasury predicted at all. Last year it said we’d get this rise in not one year, but five:
The carbon price leads to an average increase in household electricity prices of 10 per cent over the first five years of the scheme. This is a modest increase in the context of the 40 per cent real increase in electricity prices over the past 5 years.
If Treasury is so wrong about one of the simplest consequences of the carbon tax to model, by how much has it underestimated the tax’s effect on our economy?
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.