I am a simple soul. I am not well-read, well-versed, intellectual or scientific. I don't speak about things of which I am ignorant . .i do research things about which I am interested. I don't mind admitting that I don't understand things and I'm happy to be educated and elucidated by others who are well-informed. I'm happy to hear the opposing point of view and I hate wanton consumerism and waste. However, when the issue turns to "Climate Change" I get my Thrifty Pants in a twist. This has now gone beyond a sensible solution to global warming and has become a 'business', an electoral issue, a token gesture that will fill the coffers of industry and make governments popular. It really has little to do with the environment.
The climate is changing . . the jury is out as to whether it's a natural phenomenon or caused by increasing carbon emissions. My theory is that simple overpopulation and over consumption will be this planet's demise rather than carbon emissions, they are simply a part of the problem. Not that carbon emissions don't need to be tackled, a quick look over the Sydney basin on a winter's morning will tell you that the air is nothing like it was 20 years ago! Dive amongst the outer corals in the Whitsunday's and you'll see the effect of warming oceans. Ask the residents of Naru how long their paradise huts will stay on dry land before the encroaching ocean makes them uninhabitable or the Polar bears raiding rubbish bins because the ice flows no longer provide a bridge to their normal hunting grounds. Oh yes, the globe is definitely warming!
My simple response . . clearly anything we can do, to reduce population, reduce pollution, stabilise industrialisation, manage waste and restore some balance must be done.
We are huge consumers of everything and with consumerism comes planned obsolescence and waste. We have forgotten the taste of home grown tomatoes and how to butcher our own food. We need 'things' - microwaves, appliances, outdoor rooms with $3,000 barbecues, V8 vehicles, electronica, swimming pools and movie stars . .we're all a bunch of Beverly Hillbillies drunk on the affluence that has dogged the middle class, western lifestyle. We think that McDonald's is a food group, that home delivery a necessity . . .we hunker after new fads and fashions and don't care that Nike are using forced labour in Malaysia or that our diamond engagement rings are subversively mined in war-torn African nations . . .wait a minute . . .S-T-O-P. . .the hypocrisy is swimming around me as I type in my economically candle lit abode (saving energy on lights and they smell nice). Of course I like nice things, a warm house, a beautiful pool, air conditioning (well actually I haven't got aircon but that's a triviality). I live in a two-car family . . I own a fridge, a washing machine and I'm sitting here right now in front of a Dimplex which is warming my toes when a pair of socks would do the same thing. But I am not an over consumer . . . just ask my kids! And life is not difficult. But if I was rewarded for my efforts, what an incentive that would be!
The Australian Government has announced it will go ahead with a carbon trading scheme commencing 2010. The problem? We don't have the details. It will involve higher taxes and penalties for over use but I cannot for the life of me find the detail in this policy anywhere, even on the Government website.
This is all I know about how it will affect me as a householder, apparently the Government will:
- Cut fuel taxes on a cent for cent basis to offset the initial price impact on fuel associated with the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The Government will periodically assess the adequacy of this for three years and adjust this offset accordingly. At the end of this three year period, the Government will review this adjustment mechanism. If anyone can translate this, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Increase payments, above automatic indexation, to people in receipt of pensioner, carer, senior and allowance benefits. Other assistance measures to meet the overall increase in the cost of living flowing from the scheme will also be provided to this group. Because apparently they are too stupid to reuse, recycle and we all know that old people spend far too much time driving around town and languishing in a hot shower! Excuse me for being cynical but would this have something to do with placating older Australians who within 25 years will form the majority of the population?
- Increase assistance to other low-income households through the tax and payment system to meet the overall increase in the cost of living flowing from the scheme. So poor people don't need to be 'green' or concerned about environmental issues because they'll be compensated anyway?
- Provide assistance to middle-income households to help them meet any overall increase in the cost of living flowing from the scheme. Again, what does this mean? Provide an 'incentive' to live green, not compensation for energy used.
- Review annually, in the Budget context, the adequacy of payments to beneficiaries and recipients of family assistance to assist households with the overall impacts of the scheme.
- Provide additional support through the introduction of energy efficiency measures and consumer information to help households take practical action to reduce energy use and save on energy bills. That's more like it. But I want to know how.
- About 1,000 businesses that emit more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon a year will be required to buy permits and monitor and report their emissions. What businesses?
- Once a cap is set, carbon permits per tonne will be auctioned with a price set by the market, with the aim to create an incentive for businesses to decrease emissions. Excuse the cynicism . . but this might just work if investors back it
It shits me that 'taxpayer' funded schemes like this are imposed and subsidies for the poor and aged are put into place because apparently they're too stupid to conserve energy. If I was an aged pensioner reading that, I'd be incredibly insulted to think that the Government doesn't think I'm capable of reducing my carbon footprint! The Government site on the issue is full of broad policy statements and no detail and we're expected to embrace this by 2010 . . less than 18 months away.
Another problem . . will this ever win global support?
Like I said, I haven't thought through this or really researched it in any depth yet but . . .on the surface, it seems like another popularist policy with little substance and another one that will hit the hip pocket of working Australians whilst industry carries on as it has through 7 years of drought without water restrictions whilst we've been washing our windows and cars with a face cloth dipped in a bucket of rainwater.
Don't get me wrong. I am happy to reduce, reuse, recycle but I would prefer an incentive to do so rather than a punitive across-the-board quasi-solution that still allows industry to pump shit into the air. Where are the wind farms, the solar panels, the alternative energy solutions . . I'd drive a car fuelled by the local chippy . . I dunno . . Like I said, I'm a simple soul and if I can't afford electricity or light . . well I'll have to light a bloody bonfire and look what that did to the industrial cities of England in the 30's and 40's. The Opera House will look mighty fine covered in black soot. Are you with me?