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Climate Action Canberra Carbon Tax Position

Climate Action Canberra (CAC) thinks it is critical to rapidly and decisively develop and implement a strategy to secure a safe climate. One objective of this strategy is to ensure our industries are not left behind in a carbon constrained future. We need a price on carbon now to prepare for the future.

The starting price and rate of increase

CAC is opposed to having a fixed rate over a period of time followed by an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). We request that the MPCCC recommend pricing carbon exclusively through a carbon tax. A starting price of $50/tonne increasing, by $20/tonne per year, up to $150/tonne or more as required.

The price would be annually reviewed as part of monitoring the progress of the transformational programs outlined below. The reviews would integrate emerging information on climate science, impacts, economics and the circumstances of international laws and agreements.

Compensation arrangements – for community and business

(Note: the amounts proposed below are indicative and are intended to stimulate further discussion and analysis for the programs outlined.)

CAC thinks that ordinary Australians should be compensated for the financial impact of a carbon tax in the following manner.

  • Means-tested compensation over 10 years for individuals through: a welfare payment component of $10/week; a tax offset of $520 for taxable incomes up to  $70,000/annum, with the offset tapering to $0 for taxable incomes above $120,000/annum; a comparable tax offset for families.
  • Limited compensation for business through: tax-funded grants, loans, accelerated depreciation and investment allowances of up to 200% that support businesses to transform their practices and use of technologies to reduce the costs of energy consumption, chemical use and pollution.

There is to be no compensation for big energy polluters. Support for trade exposed industries will be provided, primarily through tariffs on imported products not produced sustainably. Critical manufacturing industries are to receive the closest support.

Strong regional industry plans will be developed and funded to support the transition of Latrobe Valley, Bowen Basin and Hunter Valley communities. The cost  of fully supporting the Hazlewood Power Station workforce to transition to new on-going employment could be up to $1 billion.

Revenue expenditure apart from compensation

(Note: the amounts proposed below are indicative and are intended to stimulate further discussion and analysis for the programs outlined.)

Produce legislation and budget for a central, overarching government authority to control and manage whole-of-government collaboration to implement the programs outlined. The programs will transform our society and economy so that they powered by a public renewable energy industry. The authority, similar to the Snowy Mountain scheme, would have sufficient legal powers to intervene into our economy and industries to progress the transformation to an Australian carbon-free economy. The authority will coordinate and collaborate with a range of regional and national bodies, such as Regional Development Australia.

The programs outlined will include a rigorous annual review cycle that measures progress towards transformational outcomes and provides the evidence for any necessary changes to revenue measures and programs.

  • $40 billion/year over 10 years for a program to transform to a national smart energy grid primarily powered by solar thermal with storage and wind installations.
  • $10 billion/year over 10 years for a program to transform the public transport system to an electrically powered national network of fast-train – train – tram – car.
  • $10 billion/year over 10 years for a program of reforestation, re-vegetation, soil ecology restoration, aquatic ecosystems restoration, and agriculture transformation to organic technologies and practices.

The revenue to budget for these programs is to be derived from the carbon tax; ending all subsidies to mining, energy and polluting industries; taxing of super-profits; including transport fossil-fuels in the carbon tax; removing tax incentives that promote car use; tariffs on imports not produced sustainably; re-dedicating Defence budget, personnel and capability towards the emergency transformation programs outlined; and the appropriate use of budget deficit.

Complementary measures that are appropriate and necessary to drive transformation (such as feed-in tariffs or loan guarantees for renewable energy, NEM reform proposals, transport policies, measures to maintain energy security, etc)

A range of complementary measures will need to be implemented as part of the transformational programs. The appropriate measures should be considered and implemented by the proposed authority, consistent with the programs outlined above.

Questions of international linkage and linkage to carbon from the land use sector

International and land use linkages are covered by the revenue generation and expenditure in the emergency transformation programs outlined above.

Proposals for transition from a fixed price to emissions trading

Contemporary economic evidence, such as Enron, WorldCom and the Global Financial Crisis,  demonstrates that using carbon trading will promote perverse incentives, corruption, manipulation, accounting and monitoring complexity, non-transparency, individual and community disengagement … business as usual … some market innovators will make a killing, distracting from the objectives, and risking the desired transformational outcomes.

CAP, TAX and TRANSFORM.

The emissions cap can vary downwards in response to the emerging science, and the tax can vary upwards to achieve the cap. Transformational legislation, policy and investment programs, funded by the carbon tax and other revenue measures, are implemented to:

  • end unsustainable technologies and practices;
  • start sustainable technologies and practices; and
  • ensure social inclusion and justice.

This approach is simple, understandable, transparent, and therefore likely to be broadly acceptable and not open to corruption and manipulation.

It is essential that we have a relatively stable and rising price for carbon to transform Australian energy usage and production. This is most unlikely to be achieved by an ETS. The climate emergency means we cannot risk market failure and gamble away our future.

Strategies, proposals and ideas for driving a strong and effective campaign towards the best possible climate policy outcome in the coming months

A campaign is required to inform, persuade and empower everyone to understand, appreciate, demand and participate in the transformational programs. The full set of knowledge, experience and expertise of the Australian community must be supported into action to provide the greatest potential to achieve the program outcomes. This will require local, national and international collaboration for interventions into our media and education institutions, and the activation of our communities, workplaces, workers’ unions, professional associations and businesses.

Specifically, we need the Government to implement an extensive and well funded public education campaign to explain to all Australians:

  • the clear scientific evidence and consensus that we face a global climate emergency;
  • that pricing carbon through a carbon tax is a vital element for changing our energy practices and encouraging Australian industry to innovate and move away from a carbon based economy;
  • the transformation to a renewable energy based economy provides great opportunities for creating thousands of jobs, economic development, and a healthier and safer society.

 


 

Bimblebox Nature Reserve and global climate threatened by Clive Palmers new coal mine.
TO:
The Coordinator-General
C/- EIS project manager—China First Project
Coordinated Project Delivery
Office of the Coordinator-General

Dear Coordinator General,
CC: Minister Powell, Deputy Premier Seeney and Minister Burke

I am writing to provide comments on Waratah Coal’s Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for its proposed China First/Galilee Coal Project. I strongly believe this project should not go ahead for the following reasons:
• Climate Change – Burning the coal contained in this proposed mine would result in a projected annual output of 86 million tonnes of CO2 every year. If it is not yet a crime to add this quantity of Co2 to the atmosphere it should be. Is the China First Coal Project insured for the liability of the effects of the product coal? Is it insured for the effects on current human populations, on future generations, on ground water, on biodiversity? It is already almost impossible for the world to contain CO2 levels to within a so called safe margin of average rise of 2 degrees surface temperature. This mine and others like it will contribute to droughts, floods, cyclones and other extreme weather events and changes. The Australian government needs to wake up to this and stop the opening of new mines and continued export of coal. It should instead make every endeavour to support coal consuming nations like India make a switch to clean renewable energy which is increasingly cost competitive with coal. This is the only responsible path to take. As an Australian I am ashamed that our nation exploits demand for energy to mine and export coal to the detriment of the human race and all species. Climate change is the challenge of or times and we as a nation are failing to meet it instead dealing coal when other options for employment and wealth creation in Australia exist.
• Groundwater – The mine would result in a permanent lowering of groundwater in the area but the full effects of this are uncertain because the proponent has not conducted a cumulative analysis of groundwater recovery that takes account of other mines proposed nearby.

• Biodiversity – The proposed mine would result in the destruction of the 8000 hectare Bimblebox Nature Refuge. Nature refuges should be protected in perpetuity – as intended. The destruction of Bimblebox Nature Refuge cannot be ‘offset’.
• Economics – It is a major failing that a cost benefit analysis was not required as part of the Terms of Reference for this project, and that the proponent has withheld the SEIS Revised Economic Modelling results. Without a full cost-benefit analysis, it is impossible to determine whether or not the benefits from the proposed China First Project outweigh the significant social, economic and environmental costs. The local and state-wide economic ramifications of the project are of key interest to the public, and the information should be made available for scrutiny.
These issues warrant refusal of the project, and they will only be exacerbated by the cumulative impact from the multiple mega mines planned for the Galilee Basin.

Climate Action Canberra

 


 

Pre Budget submission: January 2013
Dear Mr Swan

It is imperative that the measures that we suggest be carried out as a matter of urgency. This is the critical decade to mitigate as much as possible the climate emergency that we already see unfolding with more frequent extreme weather events around the world. Governments must take emergency climate action now, as later will clearly be too late to mount an effective response.

The catastrophic impacts of climate change draw enormously on public and private revenue. Making budget allocations for climate change mitigation programs now, in contrast to the accelerating and expanding need for disaster recovery funding into the future, is the act of an economically responsible, effective and ethical government.

Here in the ACT, Climate Action Canberra supports the ACT Government’s response to climate change. The ACT Government has set an emissions reduction target of 40% of 1990 levels by 2020 and a 90% by 2020 renewable energy target. We need to see the same, and greater, level of commitment adopted now by our federal government if we are to achieve a healthier and safer future for Australians.

Numerous scientists, including the Australian Government’s own climate science advisor Will Stephen, along with national and international institutions, have warned humanity that climate change is happening more quickly than initially predicted, and that it will be difficult to avert climate extremes and warming of more than 4 degrees centigrade. Previous calculations of the risk, pace and costs of climate change must be revised.

Fossil fuel subsidies promote fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. They undermine the ability of the Australian Government to achieve its climate policy goals, and the effectiveness of the carbon tax. These subsidies need to be removed. For example, Fuel Tax Credits subsidising the use of diesel fuel must be rapidly phased out.

The aviation fuel tax concession which makes it cheaper for people to use emissions-intensive air travel is distorting the transport market and must be quickly phased out.

The unjustified accelerated depreciation for investment in oil and gas assets needs to end, specifically, for the categories of oil and gas assets provided in section 40-102(5) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth).

Funds that the Australian Government saves from these measures needs to be expended directly, and used as a stimulus for investment, in clean renewable energy and restoration of land and water ecosystems: solar farms, solar thermal plants, wind farms, organic agriculture, reforestation, river restoration, artesian and ocean protection. Expenditure on research to further improve these clean, renewable energy technologies, and land and water practices is also required. There needs to be a budget initiative to transform our cities, urban areas and rural areas for energy efficiency, repairing ecosystems and cool microclimates. Allocation of funds to mitigate climate change by drawing CO2 into our terrestrial ecosystems in forests and soils is desperately needed.

It is imperative that there is a budget initiative with adequate allocations to develop coordinated, local, sustainable food and water security in consideration of the current and expected climate impacts on agriculture and water resources.

Would the treasurer please provide us with his economic justification for why the Government is still protecting fossil fuel industries, such as our coal export industry, via major infrastructure and transport subsidies and market distortions in direct contravention to claimed climate policy objectives and WTO provisions not to dump dirty subsidised goods into and thereby pervert global markets?

From Climate Action Canberra

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