Opinion: Did Labor Sell Out?
Questions are now being asked. Did Labour blink? Is this a tremendous backdown, or a step in the right direction? These questions all depend on your perspective. Just today, we can see that the Coalition is claiming the removal of the price floor, and a forthcoming agreement to buy and sell carbon credits with European nations will actually make it easier for them to roll back the carbon price.
There is also talk that the changes to the carbon pricing scheme will see a massive reduction in the revenues that the government was counting on in 2015-2016, with Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox declaring that “It’s fanciful” to expect the carbon price in Europe to hit $29 by then. $29 is where the government expected the price to rise to once it became a floating price, and is what revenue projections were based on.
On the flipside, the move to integrate our regime more tightly with that of Europe’s really looks like the beginning of a proper global collective approach to pricing carbon. One that is sorely needed should progress actually be made towards reducing our overall production of greenhouse gases and ultimately halting the devastating effects of climate change. Perhaps this is more a case of realpolitik, with Labor simply recognising that in an ideal world there would be a floor-price on carbon, but realistically this is not achievable in the short-term and an effective floor price can be achieved through other means. Indeed, by restricting the percentage of permits that can be purchased overseas, and by locking out purchases from developing nations, the government ensures that there is greater integrity in the whole system. Furthermore, by linking our system to that of Europe’s, there will be greater international pressure to keep what we already have in place. Should Barack Obama be successful in the upcoming presidential elections, perhaps we will also see a shift to price carbon nationally in the United States. If that happens, then any promise to roll-back the carbon tax by Tony Abbott and the Coalition will be much more challenging.
Then again, that’s a lot of ifs.