Ok, now I am know I am going to get up many people’s noses by saying a carbon tax is stupid, but let me explain why. Carbon emissions need to be not only tamed, but drastically reduced. I want my daughter to have a future. But is taxation the best approach?
Taxation seems to be one of the standard ways that governments fall back on in their social engineering activities. They love it because it adds a new revenue source and, because they know people will keep doing it anyway, adds a growing revenue source. But I believe governments resort to taxation out of a lack of creative thought and a desperation to do things within one term of office.
So let us look at some other ways that we could achieve a better result.
We already have an EPA and we have controlled emissions of many substances for industry. Why not make carbon a controlled emission and gradually ramp up the penalties and ramp down the amounts of emissions at which the penalties apply? Simple, clean and gives industry a known timetable. It also puts carbon where it belongs, as just another emission that industry need to control.
Then we take a positive initiative when it comes to personal emissions. Why in a country like Australia are not all hot water systems solar? Israel has done it, why can’t we? Make a ruling that from 2013 all new hot water systems installed in new homes, or as replacements, must be solar boosted systems.
Then let’s start building the sort of future we want. Pensioners are hard done by and basically spend all the income they receive. So why not put, at government expense, a solar power system on the roof of every pensioner’s house. Don’t make them pay for it and let them keep the savings in paying for electricity they gain. Make sure the systems are decent sized too. Further, have the guts to make the solar systems installed Australian made. Don’t have the stupidity of the insulation scam and this time only use large, existing and tightly monitored companies to do the installations and make sure the power companies pay proper credits for excess capacity. The pensioners will have extra money in their pockets, which they will spend, stimulating the economy. Emissions will drop. We’ll create jobs and a much stronger local industry.
Once all the pensioners have their solar power systems, the economies of scale will have pulled down the cost of such systems in Australia, making them more attractive to working taxpayers. As an incentive you continue the roll out of solar power by offering tax breaks for lower income people to install the systems. You also start offering tax incentives to landlords on rental properties.
All new public buildings, such as schools, hospitals and government buildings should then have solar systems integrated into their design.
Now all the above will take time, and politicians hate time. But that is what would be good for Australia. With such a planned rollout of solar capacity we would start to see substantial control of carbon emissions while we also build a local industry to support it in the long term and, hopefully, build an export base.
As the solar panel capacity is there, the government could start to offer tax incentives to industry to install systems on factories and office buildings. We could offer tax incentives to people with electric cars if they have solar systems at home, and so on. I think you start to see how this works. As the local manufacturing capacity grows the government spreads the incentives to a wider and wider cross-section of the Australian society, from the poorest to the richest over time. All this drives down the cost of solar through economy of scale effects and encourages the roll out of new solar technologies.
Since in Australia peak energy usage is in summer, at the same time as peak solar power generation, it will mean, over time, that electricity suppliers can replace dirty generation capacity with cleaner base load ability. Everyone wins.
Sadly none of the above will happen. In Australia, as I suspect is the case elsewhere, we are hampered with a collective lot of politicians with no imagination, not integrity and no ability to see beyond the next election. They also confuse what is good for themselves with what is good for Australia, which I believe is almost never the case. If you want to make it happen you will need to get campaigning.