Is the government looking for an out on the ETS?
Wayne Swan has asked the House of Representatives Economics Committee to inquire into and report on the choice of emissions trading as the central policy to reduce Australia's carbon pollution.
The Inquiry’s terms of reference are:
1. The Committee will inquire into the choice of emissions trading as the central policy to reduce Australia's carbon pollution, taking into account the need to:
a. reduce carbon pollution at the lowest economic cost;
b. put in place long-term incentives for investment in clean energy and low-emission technology; and
c. contribute to a global solution to climate change.
What does it all mean? After already having the Garnaut Inquiry and publishing the green and white papers, are the government now looking for an excuse to scrap the ETS before it ever sees the light of day? Or are they desperately searching for a diversion so as to delay the ETS’s introduction beyond 2010?
Agitate! takes particular note of item c) in the terms of reference. Agitate! has previously highlighted the economic stupidity of Australia going it alone on climate change, while countries such as China and India do nothing.
It is worthwhile remembering some sobering statistics about the Chinese economy:
· China’s reliance on coal as a primary source of energy is reflected in the fact that coal makes up 69 per cent of China’s total primary energy consumption; (Source United States Energy Information Agency, China Energy Profile, June 2008)
· China has an average of two new coal fired power stations opening every week, with another 500 under construction; (Source United States Energy Information Administration, 2007a, Annual Energy Outlook, 2006)
· In 2007, China edged ahead of the United States as the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse pollution; (Source Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency annual study, quoted in the International Herald Tribune article 'China clearly overtakes U.S. as leading emitter of climate-warming gases' by Elisabeth Rosenthal. Published: June 13, 2008)
· If unabated, by 2030 China’s emissions will grow by 139 per cent and make up 26 per cent of the world total emissions output and (United States Energy Information Administration, 2007 4a, Annual Energy Outlook, 2006)
· China claims that it will be a developing country for at least the next 50 years and will therefore not agree to be subject to the Kyoto Protocol. (Sworn testimony of Robert C Baugh, Executive Director AFL – CIO Industrial Union Council and Co-chair AFL – CIO Energy Task Force, before the Environmental and Public Works Committee of the United States Senate, 24 July 2007.)
The Committee is seeking submissions by Friday 20 March 2009.