Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Carbon tax critics should heed lessons of history

Sydney Morning Herald
26 April 2011, Page: 10

If Australian business is going to be disadvantaged by "going it alone" with a carbon tax, as the Business Council of Australia claims, would it be true to say that we are unfairly advantaged being among the world's top carbon emitters per capita? The arguments put forward by the council, Gerry Harvey and many other groups lobbying for compensation would have us exploit and pollute the environment ad infinitum because, as they see it, we don't make a difference ("Harvey slams illogical tax", April 25).

But the point is the world cannot keep doing business the way it has since industrialisation, and if we don't make fundamental change we will be left stranded continuing to use increasingly inefficient forms of energy because no one is willing to invest.

This will in the end have a very negative effect on our economy and our international competitiveness, and we will soon find ourselves overrun and our economy relying totally on foreign investment from large industrialised countries, such as China, who have not waited for world consensus to get on with the business of change.

We cannot wait any longer, and while no doubt much of the noise made about the consequences of the tax is just lobby groups jostling for handsome compensation, entitled as they are, the accumulated noise is in danger of destroying the whole process.

James Manche, Bondi

Concerning the carbon tax debate and retaining the economic status quo, Tony Abbott and Gerry Harvey should open their history books. Between the mid 16th century and the mid 19th century, across the Atlantic slavery was a major economic institution. Smaller Portugal did not abandon its slave economy until after larger Britain became abolitionist.

Clearly today, most reasonable people would feel Portugal was wrong in endorsing economic priorities before taking proactive action against slavery ahead of Britain. Likewise, if Australia quarantines carbon polluters from new values and changed circumstances pending responses from the China and the United States, future Australian generations will judge us harshly.

Peter Sinclair, Ashfield

How can Paul Sheehan make statements such as solar and wind power are prohibitively expensive and cannot meet baseload power needs" ("The great carbon chasm that could swallow Gillard whole", April 25). Five minutes of research would have uncovered solar thermal power stations delivering baseload in the US, and the 370 MW Ivanpah facility being built in California's Movaje Desert being the world's largest.

In Spain, there are at least five either operating or being developed, with a further 25 to 30 being planned by the EU for southern Europe. As well there are World Bank funded projects being developed in Egypt, Mexico and Morocco. If one of Mr Sheehan's points is in error, how can we possibly believe the rest of his argument?

John Newton, Glebe

Paul Sheehan missed one important argument against a carbon tax. We are already [laying much more for electricity and petrol, but has this changed our consumption patterns? Have we moved to renewable forms of energy? The answer, quite simply, is no. The carbon tax is one big con and I hope people are beginning to see through it.

Ronda Wakeley, Dural