Sheridan on Australia Labour’s carbon tax scheme

Greg Sheridan is Foreign Editor of The Australian – and thus obviously not an expert on climate science or energy policy. But as best I can tell, he gets the Aussie politics right in this editorial:

(…) There is also something profoundly offensive to democratic practice in the way the Gillard government has shovelled out vast amounts of public money to long-term friends of the Labor Party, such as Garnaut and Tim Flannery, so that, with a wholly spurious and confected institutional credibility, they can declare: government good, opposition bad.

Garnaut tells us that Australia is a laggard on climate policy, in danger of being left behind, that we have done less than other developed countries. But the Productivity Commission, restricted to surveying a group of countries already skewed towards those who would do more on greenhouse emissions, finds that we are about in the middle, that our efforts are fully commensurate with the US and China.

These conclusions cannot both be true. One is right, one is wrong.

Like Garnaut, I have no qualifications or expertise in climate science, but I have followed a lot of international agreements through several decades of work in international affairs. One thing I know for sure is that grandiloquent pledges to lofty goals are never met. Part of the dishonesty of the Garnaut report is that it takes the windiest, or to put it more politely, most ambitious, pledges of other countries and accepts them as proven policy.

(…) I travel a good deal in Asia, the US and the Middle East, and climate change barely figures in the popular debates in those countries, which means that their governments are not under much pressure to do anything.

As with the illegal immigrants debate, you have to triple-check everything the government says to you on this matter. Canada is listed in the government’s Fact Sheet as having a carbon price. In fact, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper just won the first clear-cut victory for the Conservatives in 25 years by promising no carbon tax or ETS. The Fact Sheet is referring to vastly less effective state-based carbon taxes within Canada. The same is true for the misleading material about the US. The Fact Sheet begins with a lie. It says: “All countries – and all the major emitters – are acting now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Later on it sheepishly admits the contradictory reality, that China’s emissions are set to continue to rise massively for many years to come. Japan has delayed an ETS indefinitely and South Korea is not planning to introduce one for several years, yet both are frequently presented as though they do have such schemes.

Read the whole thing. If Greg had just finished reading the Hartwell Paper I think his theme would have been much the same. When I first scanned his column I thought “he must have been reading Roger Pielke Jr.”

For some more background on climate/energy policy that will actually work, please see my recent post “Why will China buy your plan?