July 12, 2011

What is the cost of not acting?

Aside from a swathe of overwhelmingly negative effects to our way of life and the environment if we do not make a global effort to fight climate change, there are significant risks to the Australian economy if we do not take steps towards pricing carbon. John Birmingham of the Sydney Morning Herald published an illuminating article detailing how we will end up paying whether or not a price on carbon is introduced. The difference is to who that money will go – to Australian taxpayers in the form of compensation, or to overseas jurisdictions in the form of penalty payments.

To illustrate the risks facing us if we do not act, let’s consider the case of Qantas, who now faces an initial carbon tax penalty of 15% on its carbon emissions for any flights it makes into or out of Europe. This penalty will increase over time, and is payed directly into the coffers of the European Union. The reason for its imposition is specifically because Australian does not have carbon price in place.

Over the next few years, the European Union will expand its penalty regime to impose general sanctions on countries that do not meet its standards on carbon reduction mechanisms. Economic powerhouses like China and the US will likely be able to negotiate their way around them, by threatening retaliatory sanctions or similar. Australia, on the other hand, does not have that sort of negotiating power, and will be forced to pay the price.

There is precedent for this. John Birmingham points to Howard’s capitulation on privacy legislation – he was forced to introduce wide-ranging protections at the behest of our European trading partners, or see Australian businesses face penalties when trading in Europe.

There are further economic reasons behind acting to implement a price on carbon, aside from the risk of foreign sanctions. The fact is that renewable energy technology will be the next huge growth industry. The Chinese have been quick to recognise this and have the highest level of investment in this sector, accounting for almost 25% of worldwide investment in renewables last year for a total of $50 billion USD. If we do not incentivise investment in the sector, we will simply be left behind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.limmer Jason Limmer

    This is a sham, why do the emerging countries have to take out green loans to help them develop, if they are going to develop they sure don’t need to get into debt first. Money makers are behind this hoax using the environment as a front, they are not at all interested in the environment but only money. Money is after all the root of all kinds of evil. If you want to know the truth ask Jesus Christ into your heart.

  • Anonymous

    Money is the cause of the sorry state of our world
    Greed companies and greedy govenments ane poisioning us with dirty power generation
    poisionus industrial wast
    All in the name of short term profits
    We must act now while we still have cheap alternitives to the masive cost
    of cleaning up in the future not to mention the death and destruction we will face
    if we follow the libs to an early grave they are already killing us with industrial poisions you must make a stand
    The carbon tax is a start maybe not the total solution be it will make companies
    start looking at better solutions
    We have a Big Big coast line Tidal power generation will non poision u it will provide
    cheap clean power for ever ( so the only thing it will produce is clean money)

  • Greg

    Better to ask: “What is the cost of acting?”  Answer: increased taxes, greater government control, loss of international competitiveness, loss of jobs, no benefit to climate change at all, big win for socialism, bigger government, more form filling, more bureaucrats. The sooner there is an elction the better. The Labor Party had no mandate. The US, Canada, China and Europe have back-pedalled on climate change for the past 3 years.

  • Darren

    Great. come up with all the negatives of acting, and none of the positives. Who are the largest financial corporations in America/canada. energy intensive ones. China is still growing and wants to improve it’s living standards of its people (which will inevitably increase emissions). Also america is severely financially disabled, while australia has one of the strongest economies in the world right now (despite the storm in a teacup media trying to tell you otherwise). 

    Ok reality. Australia is an influential nation (I wonder if you have ever thought about why our country code is AU instead of Austria), with strong ties with the US and China. Australians (i.e u and your 4wd per person policy) are the worse polluters per person in the world. Full stop, end of story. How, with this knowledge, can you turn around and tell other countries to clean up their act when the only reason they are larger polluters than us is because they have significantly greater populations than us. That is both selfish and childish.

    When Australia  introduces this act it will do a number of things. It will send a clear message, with a lot of influence behind it, that the world needs to act on a clear and present danger. It will set up our economy to handle life outside a mining boom and it will introduce measures to ensure that we as a nation do something to clean up our own act, instead of sitting back and whining about other nations.

  • Blonde Creation Scientist

    LOL, I hope you’re a troll Jason.

  • Frilleh34

    Hello? The global average temperature has been falling steadily since 2000. The average temperature on Mars is moving in the same pattern as the temperature on  
    Earth. The SUN is driving the temperature. This tax is trying to solve a problem that does not exist. It’s like the witch-hunt where innocent women were burnt for a crime that does not exist. Welcome to the neo-dark ages.

  • Rational

    Jesus is imaginary. Climate change isn’t.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WWP4CGHQFQRHTW3ZPFGYGT4VBM Num Num

    Sorry, but there are other ways to enforce companies to clean up their act than by basically taxing all the people of Australia! Enforce current environmental laws and add new restrictions to polluters! While encouraging these polluters to come up with innovated out-of-the-box solutions that are better for the environment! Don’t make the same mistake my stupid EPA folks did in the U.S. by restricting stuff so much that companies cannot come up with their own designs to accomplish the same goals: not releasing as many pollutants into the atmosphere and water! The Al Gore Carbon Tax crap is NOT the answer!! Companies will raise prices and pass the tax to the consumer, which means less money in your pocket!


  • Andy

    Austria is the English word – Österreich is the word in German. They would hardly choose AU would they?

  • Andy

    This is just not true. Since global temperatures records began in 1880, the warmest decade on record was 2001 – 2010, and each one of these years were in the top 11 warmest years on record. The warmest was 2005, the second warmest was 2010.

  • Ytongs

    I’ve read a lot about this and I bring it down to this:

    Is the climate changing: Yes (but then it always has hasn’t it?)

    Are man’s activities to blame: Yes (stands to reason that you can’t pump all these nasties into the air without some bad effect can you? But no-one has proved the true extent of man’s effect have they?)

    Can you do anything about it: No (quite straightforward really, if its half as bad as the doomsayers then all of this carbon tax etc will only scratch the surface won’t it? and do you really think that some Chinese/Indian/third world peasant is going to appreciate us telling him he can’t have a car/fridge/tele because we THINK he will damage the environment? That is if you think you have the moral right to tell him anything of the sort).

    And I’ve seen too many “hockey sticks” (remember the  IPCC gaff) and stichups from universities to believe them now. The worry for me is that I have been turned off by the way the adherants treat this more as a religion (as happens in the human rights/health and safety/anti-capitalism etc sphere of influence) than a proper scientific debate and I could be missing something. 

  • Jhon_gangster

    fuck u dickhead go suck carbon tax dick


    Such a valid comment ILY Gangster

  • nigel

    carbon tax is homo

  • Trollface.jpg

    Dylan Barrass is a homo

  • Cam

    The saddest thing is that I expected some intelligent conversation here and found the same old ill thought out denial of science and blatant immaturity.

    An underlying fact here that nobody is denying is that even if climate change wasn’t real, mass pollution of almost EVERY local environment on the planet is leading to a GLOBAL pollution that will make life as we know it impossible.

    Don’t forget that even though we like to think modern science has removed us from relying on this planet and it’s global and local environments to survive, our core survival comes back to basic food production which relies on sustainable farming.

    Sustainability is the ONLY way for humans to survive. We will run out of oil and fuel soon enough. If we haven’t used a commercially viable carbon tax to make that transaction smooth starting now THEN our industry and economy will collapse overnight when our way of life becomes impossible to continue.

    I truly hope that nobody is ignorant enough to deny that sustainability is the basis of human survival. 

  • Spuio

    I believe one scientist put this whole issue into perspective perfectly. Say hypothetically the earths atmosphere was distance wise 1km to simplify things. Of that 1000m, man made carbon level contributions over industrial history equate to that of a human hair. Of that human hair Australias Industry input equals 0.18%. Do the math.

  • Cam

    I think there is a difference between the entire atmosphere here and the single atmospheric level that is made up of Co2 gasses which creates an appropriate greenhouse effect for our survival. And to your point of how small that layer is in comparison with the rest of the atmosphere, if that layer is absolutely tiny and it is responsible for life as we know it on Earth, I believe changing it in the tiniest of ways could have very large effects. We have already shown we are capable of damaging something so fragile when a hole was put in the ozone layer. We reacted appropriately, stopping the responsible gasses from being used and the mending began immediately.

  • Jade

    There comes a time when the environment comes before money. That time is now and Australia is taking a huge step forward to do this and set a good example. Hopefully other countries will follow. I’m only sixteen and you may not think i’m mature enough to understand or don’t know what i’m talking about and that’s true in some ways, but i do know that i’m scared. The effects of global warming are so obvious and they are now happening more quickly. Who knows how many more generations the earth will be able to handle before something terrible happens. What does money matter anyway if there’s going to be no earth to live on?

  • bruce

    Besides from the this tax, being ONE GIANT scam. Does any one in government know what there talking about far out. This has to be one of the most ridiculously outrageous things I’ve ever heard about. Am i right in ASSUMING that from the dawn of man there has be CO2 emission, i dint think back then they had any dramas about CO2 emissions. Since the start till the end of the earth there will be CO2 emissions, its inevitable! IF anyone wants to learn about all this stuff in greater detail id advise all of you to watch all of jesse ventura’s conspiracy theories and read and watch the alex jones shows. you will be impressed and will wake up from all this political neonazi propaganda. And another thing after we pay 23$ per tonne where does all this money go? – to the banksters? those hot heads that think they run the world at the federal reserve?? this tax should never have gotten past its pathetic.

  • bruce

    Your 100% correct!!!! i couldn’t agree more with ya. I believe its to get the banksters (the fed) the money they lost gambling it away

  • bruce

    Darren no offensive but your full of shit! full stop end of story! do you have you hand in gillards pocket aswell? haha I’m being sarcastic. There is significant reputable studies out there form high end universities and research facilities proving that global warming is  effected by SUN. not us nor CO2. wake up really! Im not trying to be rude, do your research study it then com back here and comment. 10 years ago even 100 years ago there was no worry about carbon emissions.  Ask your self with all the money that will be made, where will it go? we the people will not see any change what so ever. there already complaining about an overload of energy put back into the grid from solar panels. come on, a green house product “solar panels” used to be greener are just another gimmick. close friends have had solar panels for a few years now and have had nothing but problems and have seen a few dollars of there bill compared to with out it. everything the government does and says is one big fat lie. look at desalinisation plants, recently an article came out saying that the government was feeding excessive amounts of dam water back into the ocean so literally eliminating our water source so they can suck up sea water and sell it back to us for a profit. i remember the days when water was free I’m now paying over 300$ on my water bill compared to 10 years ago when it was not even 50 bucks.

  • George

    Lets ignore the question of whether or not what we are doing has direct impacts on the climate. The money from this tax will help get more certainty on the causes, but more importantly allow us to begin to plan for the natural (or man made) impacts we are starting to live with.

    Floods in Queensland, Longer Droughts, More Bush Fires…. all these things are caused by our environment, and getting a better understanding, or having the money to put in the engineering solutions needed to cope with future events is exactly what we need 

  • George

    Here’s some math for you…. i’ll put a drop of poison in a glass of water. Less than 0.18%. Are you going to drink it now?

  • George

    The reason why green loans are there is for these countries to develop they aren’t able to exploit the natural resources or enslave populations like we in the developed world did in order to get to where we are. I think a green loan is far better than slave ships from Africa, or the extermination of our indigenous populations! 

  • KarbonKev

    I have read scientific papers back to the 1980s that describe the effects. It is scary stuff, because some of it has started to happen.

    Mitchell, J., (1989). The greenhouse effect
    and climate. Reviews of Geophysics 27:115-139.
    Retrieved from

    Hansen, J., Johnson,
    D., Lacis, A, Lebedeff, S., Lee, P. Rind, D., Russell, G., (1981), Climate
    Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Science, 213, 957-966 Retrieved from 

  • Darren

    I have a pretty good idea of who funded that guy, and I am not saying that he was using false facts. But if i disregard all of the bad things that tyrants, hitler for example, than they were pretty nice people. More importantly if the mass of a human was displayed in a 1000m graph, what distance would be the mass of say a lethal dose of cyanide be.

  • Dave Burke


    Austria is the English word – Österreich is the word in German. They would hardly choose AU would they?

    They might have done. As it happens, they chose AT.

  • Jamesss _

    eshays lad 

  • Jamesss _

    I know a guy call jebus does that count 

  • Bob

    i Recon :D  8==3

  • Bub

    get off the crack bob

  • Bob


  • Mary

    its people like you who make this intelligent convursation ruined.

  • Bub

    conversation* twit!

  • Redgmystr

    Industry and energy production is creating negative externalities on the Global Economy. If there is no intervention, enviroment will degrade until it cannot be reversed. As a result, resources such as land and minerals will be decreased and therefore decrease economic output and economic growth. Whether this tax is the answer, is another question all together, but intervention is required.

  • rob

     l dont want a carbon tax prime minister ..Australians had a gutful ….ok           

  • anticarbontax

    how bout you learn how to spell first champ, then try inputting your opinion into a public forum.

  • Mr.Cool


  • Talk is cheap

    There seems to be an enormous amount of facts mentioned by everyone here but not one single quote.  A couple of simple scientific questions to answer for you all.  What creates carbon in the atmosphere ?  Is there a level of carbon in the atmosphere that will kill life on this planet ? What gets rid of carbon in the atmosphere ? Once you have answered these questions from scientific facts (not political or religious hype) can you come up with answer to the problems we face globally ?

  • Jason11

    Climate change is real but not because of us. There is nothing that say that the climate has to stay the way it is for the next million years. This tax is just another money making scheme created by queen rednut in Canberra.

  • Getstuffedjuliar

    Totally agree, carbon tax lovers can go suck dick

  • Getstuffedjuliar

    I would be interested to know why Juliar
    Gillard is continuing to lie to the Australian public. She is a complete and
    utter fool and if anyone believes her and her equally stupid ministers that
    this carbon tax and the mining tax will not be bad for families is a fool.
    Also Gillard claims that she will compensate families but then this just
    completely undermines the tax. In other words what is the point of bringing in
    a tax if the payers are going to get their money back? The answer is purely
    simple she is a lying fool; either that or she is “Bob Brown’s
    Speaking of Bob Brown why is forcing the government to enforce these taxes? The
    answer is again simply obvious; firstly, Gillard is allowing Bob Brown to force
    this upon the Australian people because she is only interested in staying in
    power. Which indicates that she does not give a stuff about the Australian
    public. Another point to bring to the attention of those that haven’t realised
    is that the Independents don’t care about the Australian people either
    otherwise they would withdraw their support for the government and allow the
    public to decide whether or not they want the Carbon and mining taxes.
    Which brings us to our next question- why are the Independents continuing to
    support the worst government in world history? Well there are several obvious
    reasons, firstly, Wilke, Windsor, Bandt and Oakshott in particular are all
    idiots. Oakshott is fact only support Gillard because if the current Labor
    Government of fools remain in power for their entire term, it means that he
    will have completed eight years in parliament. This means that he is guaranteed
    a lifetime pension of $150 000 a year. This is again another indication that
    Labor, the Greens and are the Independents don’t care for the Australian
    people, for us as Australian citizens. It means they have turned their backs on
    us and blind to the destruction they are causing to Australian society.
    Which brings me to the next question- why won’t Quentin Brice, the Governor
    General, sack the worst government in world history? Well the answer is again
    simple, she is corrupt. Well at least in the sense that her son-in-law, Bill
    Shorten, is one of the Gillard government’s senior ministers.
    So in order to save Australia from the Destructiveness that all Labor governments
    seem to cause we have few options.
    The First- knock down Quentin Brice’s door and force her to call a double
    The Second- protest and protest and protest right in front of Gillard until she
    herself gets the knife in the back. This will not solve the problem but it will
    be a temporary relief.
    And the Third- when the election comes around in 2013 vote Liberal or National,
    whatever you do, do NOT vote Labor, Green or Independent. Also remember to keep
    in mind that A VOTE FOR LABOR IS A VOTE FOR DESTRUCTION. Which is why I advise
    all Australians to vote Liberal or National because a vote for Liberal or
    National is a vote for stability, a vote for relief and most important of  all… A VOTE FOR LIBERAL AND NATIONAL IS A

  • You raise a valid point

    Darren, I think you are understating the importance of the country code example. Quite simply, because we, not Austria, have the country code AU gives us a world influential index of 63.7. Taken into context only America, China, Singapore, Bhutan, Urfuloshitistan have a higher index. This is significant.

    All sarcasm aside, how can I be expected to take anything you say seriously when you use examples like that!?

  • Ian

    The question that no one seems prepared to answer for me is: If the carbon tax achieves all of its objectives by 2020, by how much would the earth have cooled? I tried to work it out myself using the IPCC calculations and came to 1/280,000th of a degree Celsius. Can anyone tell me the verified figure?

  • Addum13

    what a load of rubbish the government is broke and needs the money, thats all this is about

  • Ynotbbb

    By imposing this tax there will be not impact on the every increasing levels of emission due to poorer countries taking up industries to produce the items we are requiring to live. The population of the world has surpast the levels of self sufficency as we are now using man made sources just to survive, eg Desalinated water.  Money may be the root of all evil but religion has a lot to answer for.

  • Anonymous

    How foolish are you. AU is Australia. Austria (correctly spelt in their native language Ostereich and therefore OST). Intelligence is what is needed here not stupidity.

  • Anonymous

    You are no brighter than Darren. Solar panels are the cheap way of government getting increased electricity without paying billions of dollars for a new power station and if your friend is no brighter than you then he will never work out how to use his solar panels to everybody’s advantage including his own financial.

  • Anonymous

    That is just a moronic piece of rubbish. Even the followers of Islam don’t deny the existence of Jesus they just see him in a different way to that which we do.

  • Anonymous

    Introducing an element into the debate that has nothing to do with it makes your whole argument unacceptable. Your theory on monetary gains for a limited few has some merit. A religious call is not an element that has any creditability.

  • Kristabelle

    In every case of global climate warming over the last 450,000 years, the atmospheric concentrations of both methane and carbod dioxide have increased with the increasing temperatures. The carbon dioxide and methane concentration in the atmosphere, in previous episodes of global warming had nothing to do with human activity. Why would the current episode, out of all of the other cases be due to human activity? It is more likely that egocentric westerners want to believe that they can control nature or capitalists want to use global warming to make a killing out of the carbon tax. – They will pay for pollution but will reap handsome dividends from the carbon tax paid to them by consumers. It is also likely that we are seeing the beginning of politicians rationing, by price, of scarce resources, such as electricity. The poor will be the first to be excluded from access to such resources. Is a universal price on water coming? I’d say so!

  • Geordie

    Cost of not acting.

    Death. For everyone.

  • A. Nonymous

    Scrap the European union. What difference does it make to the environment whether we have a tax or not? It is estimated that a carbon tax will only lower the average temperature by 1/4000th of a degree. One four-thousandth.