ABCs ‘Inside Business’ Revisited

ABCs ‘Inside Business’ Revisited

The Price of Carbon, energy and’ landuse improvement’: the increasing costs of uncertainty The CEO of Origin suggested in Inside Business on ABC Sunday Morning (21.July 2013) that currently there is not only little incentive to invest in renewable energy but also that there is little incentive to invest in coal. He also suggested that with a carbon price of 6$/tonne it made more business sense to build coal-fired base load infrastructure than to shift into the more GHG friendly gas -Base Load model, which would require a price of A$ 30-40. As it was, and with the political uncertainty before the elections (unlikely to go away after) nothing happens at all. While politicians might safely, so they think, ignore the huge public confusion they caused, they realise that if that happens to industry, it is not so easy to ignore.

As to the question as to whether there should be a tax or an ETS, one has to look for the answer from abroad where with the entry of China and an almost U turn of the US it is now clear that the international response will not be tax based but one which will try to use markets to make changes. For this reason an ETS system, the government intent anyway, and with the transient ‘Carbon Tax ‘ a very unnecessary distraction it would seem, seems the prudent way to go in a global climate response. It seems to be less prudent to unconditionally link the Australian system to the EU ETS, with its problematic history and a very uncertain future over the next ten years, to say nothing of its precarious political and economic situation..

Listening to that panel discussion between Alan Kohler, ABC’s business guru and the CEO of Origin, of “Ownership matters’ and……, the increasing price of the polarised nature of the climate change ‘debate’ as it has played out between the major parties  comes to light. That it is contrary to Australia’s and its peoples interest has become painfully evident. It not only makes a farce of Australia’s contribution to international climate change action but also leaves Australia not just ‘leaderless’ but greatly damaged.

As to the discussion: I felt it was unbalanced,  lacked depth, all in all very much Business As Usual.  I asked myself the question as to why there was hardly any mention of the dramatic rise of solar energy, the expected impacts of decentralisation (also on the baseload concept which is likely to undergo a massive shift over the next decade as rapidly advancing technology and decentralisation takes hold) and very evident if one follows technological development, as is for example described almost weekly in ‘New Scientist” or is also  described  on Sydney based Giles Parkinson’s website Renew Economy ). There is much recommended reading there. And it would have changed Alan Kohlers discussion I think much to the better.

As is the case so often, I also noticed that in terms of investment there was no talk about the landuse changes and investment needs (opportunities)  which can theoretically not only offset all of Australia’s annual GHG emissions but which would restore Australia’s degraded  and non (un) productive landscapes. These are ACC’s business and what the current carbon price does to them is also very bad.  A low price of carbon will continue to further entrench an agricultural model we well know is highly unsustainable. It will also deprive landowners of any meaningful opportunity to invest in and benefit from non BAU landuse changes.

Perhaps it is time to get politics out of that. After all, as a recent poll showed,  the great majority of Australians are concerned and want ACTION. Meaningful action too! Direct Action also. Not the one envisaged by the Liberal Party but ‘direct’ between many people and with a support and leadership by government or party which is entirely lacking.

Dr Johannes Bauer
President and CEO
Australian Carbon Co-operative, Ltd.
1669 O’Connell Rd
O’Connell, NSW 2795
Ph. 61 (0)2 63375771

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