Anyone got a spare $100 billion? Maybe a bit more — a quarter trillion?

That’s how much it would cost the government, using its current Direct Action policy, to meet the carbon emission abatement targets Malcolm Turnbull is taking to Paris — 26% by 2030, on 2005 levels, which translates to around 19% on 2000 levels, the benchmark we’re currently using for our 2020 goal of 5%.

Who says? Those feral environmentalists at the Australian Industry Group — normally to be found arguing for industrial relations deregulation and red tape reduction.

In comparison, the Climate Institute predicts it will cost between $28 billion and $200 billion to “Direct Action” our way to those goals.

As Turnbull so accurately spotted back in 2010 from his position on the Coalition backbench, that’s the problem with Direct Action — it was designed as a fig leaf for Tony Abbott’s climate denialism and would be ridiculously expensive to actually employ as an emissions abatement mechanism. Moreover, it gets worse as time goes on and cheaper abatement is banked, meaning each new round of purchases is of ever-more expensive abatement, in an endless cycle of taxpayer dollars chasing less and less efficient abatement and efficiency programs.

Turnbull will thus show up in Paris with no serious plan for achieving even the modest targets bequeathed him by the denialist Abbott. For a man who once declared he wouldn’t lead a party that wasn’t as committed to climate action as he was, it’s a sad sight.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey