Jul 162008

It is ironic that governmental advisory reports on climate change are produced on paper, the production of which in and of itself consumes huge amounts of bleached dead trees. Surely the carbon minimised footprint is well in the red before any mitigation of carbon production actually begins.

Irony aside, and having now read and almost completely understood the thrust of the Garnaut Report, I’m now faced with another read of another report to see how the government proposes … note that word … to handle the professional economic advice it asked for.

A quick review of chapters 4 and 8 – Emission Targets and Scheme Caps and Household Assistance Measures – reveals a lot of impressive graphs, many, many motherhood statements, but bugger all real information of any import for those of us chomping at the bit. I see a lot of …

The Government could provide a longer period of certainty (10 years or more) over scheme caps.

The Government could provide the minimum number of years required to align with the international commitment period.

Possible price effects by household type, 2010–11

Potential timing for the introduction of household assistance measures

Could … Possible … Potential … all words which infer unknowns, vagaries and a whole lot of wriggle room. As an aside, the ‘Potential’ statement heads section 5.2 of chapter 8. The text in that section is more than a little disquieting for we consumers.

The detailed development and introduction of household assistance measures will occur on an ongoing basis up to and following the introduction of the scheme. This process will be informed by existing review processes and other developments in Government policy. It will also involve specific consultations with relevant stakeholders. There will be a difference between the initial impact of the scheme on households, which will depend on the carbon price, and households’ exposure to the carbon price, which should decrease over time as they adapt and change their behaviour. This has implications for the timing of the delivery of assistance measures. In the broad, it suggests targeted transitional assistance will be necessary in the short-term and that some assistance will need to start before the commencement of the scheme.

How can climate change assistance measures for unknown potentials which may or may not occur following the introduction of an emissions trading scheme, be guided or informed by existing review processes and sundry other developments in governmental policy which isn’t yet in existence? Never mind about the unknowns though, people. YOU VILL UNDJUST YOUR BEHAVEYOR OHFER TIME! The government has already decided.

In a brief look, there seems to be more certainties in that last section than the entire two chapters I skimmed. I’m just breatless with anticipation about the level of non-information available for public debate which the rest of the document probably … possibly … coul contain. I fully realise that while climate change, as a phenomenon, is supported by majority scientific opinion, I find a public discussion document which dwells, or at least appears to dwell, on vagaries and inconsequentialities, if’s and maybe’s is hardly supportive of a governmental position of full steam ahead and damn the consequences.

At least petrol ‘appears’ to have been considered as a pivotal economic consideration for we struggling households. For long enough to secure this government a second term at least. Good politics I heard it described as on Radio National this morning. I’d rather it be considered good policy, but perhaps that’s asking just a little too much.

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