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Crikey says: Greens an easy scapegoat on climate policy

We play word association with Clive Palmer. David Leyonhjelm reckons John Howard should be shot — so where’s the outrage from the Right? Stilgherrian rages at Facebook’s mood manipulation experiment. An aged care insider warns disaster looms. Voter IDs for Queensland, but are punters really gaming the system? And all unattended children will be given a beer: Seaford RSL’s childcare bungle.

A persistent myth about the role of the Greens in carbon pricing legislation has emerged in recent years. It’s argued even by some of the best journalists in the press gallery, such as Phil Coorey and Laurie Oakes, that the Greens, in their ideological purity, doomed Australia to years of wrangling over a carbon price by not voting for Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009.

If they had, the myth goes, Australia would have had an emissions trading scheme up and running that could never be removed.

Wrong.

The CPRS was bad policy that would have done nothing to curb greenhouse emissions. In its final form, there would have been no carbon price of any kind. So generous were the handouts to industry that the CPRS would have actually cost the government money for over a decade. Indeed, free permits to trade-exposed industries grew over time under the CPRS, with households paying the bill.

Moreover, the Rudd government had no interest — until Malcolm Turnbull was replaced by Tony Abbott in the climate denialist putsch of November 2009 — in getting Greens support for the scheme. Labor was primarily interested in securing bipartisan political cover and using the CPRS as a tool to wedge the Liberals, until Abbott boldly and cleverly turned the tables. That’s why the then-government refused to even discuss the CPRS with Bob Brown.

When it comes to the debacle that is Australia’s current position on climate action, there are plenty of villains — and they’re mainly in the Liberal and Labor parties, in business and trade unions, not among the Greens.

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  • 1
    Roger Clifton
    Posted Monday, 30 June 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Maybe, but the Greens are certainly guilty of the idiocy of “reduction”. They would have us believe that without any alternative baseload power, carbon pricing would induce industry to reduce its (carbon-based) power to zero. Further, that token reductions in carbon usage by one billion rich people would allow seven or nine billion people to live an industrialised lifestyle with no further damage to the greenhouse.

    There is no sustainable level of carbon emissions for us to reduce to, carbon fuels must be replaced. And dont believe them saying that wind-backed-by-gas is non-carbon. We have to go nuclear.

  • 2
    AR
    Posted Monday, 30 June 2014 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Nice that you state the plain truth but why did you omit from the dishonourable list BK who has peddled that line in his tired, and tiresome, by-the-numbers denigration of anything Green?

  • 3
    Dogs breakfast
    Posted Monday, 30 June 2014 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Also pleased to see Crikey clarify their position on that. I argued on the crikey web pages quite a lot that the Greens were doing the right thing by rejecting the first model CPRS. It was always about Rudd playing politics, and Bernard Keane was a vociferous opponent of the Greens policy.

    He was wrong.

    Thanks Roger Clifton, a mindless contribution about a non-policy that the Greens don’t hold. Brilliant insight

  • 4
    Roger Clifton
    Posted Tuesday, 1 July 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Dogs B* - The greenhouse crisis is caused by “carbon fuels”, so the cure is “non-carbon fuels”. The Greens admit the crisis but deny the cure.

    Instead we get the non-sequitur “renewables”, an irrelevant cure to an imagined shortage of mineral resources. However any practical application of renewables requires a limitless supply of mineral gas to back up the windmills, solar panels etc. Any assertion of “low-carbon” is code for “more gas”.

    That’s a windmill salesman’s dream, but environmentally it’s mindless.

  • 5
    Adam Ford
    Posted Tuesday, 1 July 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    What total crap!
    The CPRS DID have a price on carbon:
    “The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme would have put a price on carbon in a systematic way throughout the economy” (Department of Climate Change Green Paper, 2008, 13).

    The price of emissions would increase the cost of those goods and services that are most emissions-intensive” (Department of Climate Change, 2008, 13).

    Since carbon pollution permits will be tradable, the price of permits will be determined by the market” (Department of Climate Change, 2008, 13).

    And The Greens, along with the Climate Action Summit had already rejected it for “not going far enough”. The Greens of course went on to agree to a scheme that didn’t go as far and destroyed Gillard’s Prime Ministership in the process. Having already created the space for Tony Abbott to become opposition leader.

    Some evidence is required to support these ridiculous claims!

  • 6
    CML
    Posted Wednesday, 2 July 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Totally agree, Adam Ford.
    Crikey are just following the herd in Oz media. Anything good that the Labor Party did under Kevin Rudd must be destroyed at all costs.
    This editorial would sit well in Ltd News publications. The latter have done well in polluting the peoples’ minds in regard to the Rud/Gillard/Rudd governments. History will prove them wrong!
    And Crikey - stop mouthing the poison produced by the new gutter press in publications like The Australian. Very few people believe that cr+p anymore.
    Perhaps you should concentrate on delivering Crikey on time, instead of this edition (Monday) which arrived this morning (Wednesday)!!

  • 7
    David Irving (no relation)
    Posted Wednesday, 2 July 2014 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    [sigh] So many idiots, so little time.

    Roger, Adam, CML, it’s all very nice that you live in a fact-free environment, but I don’t see why the rest of us have to put up with your nonsense.

    Roger: South Australia is currently producing something like 30% of its power (day and night) from renewable sources, so it can be done. We’ll probably be pretty much carbon-free by 2030.

    Adam: Rudd’s original ETS was, as the article correctly points out, mainly intended to wedge the Libs. It would have been worse than useless (unless you were one of the spivs in the finance industry who would have done quite nicely out of it), and it didn’t allow for increased targets. 5% reduction (or whatever) pretty much guarantees that temperatures will be high enough by the end of the century to make civilisation impossible.

    CML: It’s not about destroying Rudd’s reputation. Read the article for meaning and context.

  • 8
    Adam Ford
    Posted Wednesday, 2 July 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    @David, I think you (or the authors) need to provide some evidence for your otherwise total opinion. How was this carbon pricing scheme not going to put a price on carbon, and it was only intended to wedge the liberals? You will note I have provided supporting evidence in my contribution.

    The 5% target was EXACTLY what the Greens supported when they agreed to eventually support Gillard’s carbon price. So again, the evidence damns the rejectionism of the Greens on a scheme that had the same targets and was more generous to most industries than the CPRS.

    SA has actually produced over 60% of its power from renewables at times, by the way. And yes we could if we wanted to be become carbon free by 2030, but the things you would have to do WOULD significantly increase the cost of electricity. Progressively ramping up the RET rather than winding it back would be one of the lowest cost ways of getting us there, though.

  • 9
    CML
    Posted Thursday, 3 July 2014 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    @ DI - Where do you get off calling people idiots just because they have a different take on things?
    What Adam has to say, backed up by evidence, sounds fine to me. Okay, so I’m not a scientist, but ordinary people have to work things out as best they can from reading the available information.
    I live in SA, so I know we produce more renewable energy than the other states. Yes it is a bit more expensive, but it will be much more so if we wait for another decade or two before increasing the RET.
    This stupid government is just making things a whole lot worse!

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