Tasmanian Times


Clean energy economy needs more than carbon price

The ‘clean energy economy’ the Treasurer is keen to talk about will not happen unless the price on carbon pollution is strong enough to begin the transition away from coal and is accompanied by a suite of measures to see renewable energy power plants built, the Australian Greens said today.

Extracts from Treasury modelling selectively released by the government in recent days show that a price on pollution alone will not drive sufficient growth in renewable energy over coming decades.

“While I am yet to see the full modelling, it clearly confirms the view of experts around the world – that to drive a boom in renewable energy, we need to do more than put a price on pollution,” Australian Greens Acting Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said

“The Greens have always argued that, to build the kind of industrial-scale solar power stations here in Australia that are being built in Europe and America, we need direct support through independent investment, feed-in tariffs, loan guarantees or some combination of these.

“We will continue to work hard in the Multi-Party Climate Committee to make sure that the final package drives renewable energy to power far more of Australia than the selected leaks from the Treasury modelling project.

“It is pleasing to hear the Treasurer acknowledge that many European countries directly support renewable energy alongside their participation in the EU emissions trading scheme.

“It is also pleasing that the Treasurer acknowledges India’s energy efficiency target scheme. The Greens have long called for such a scheme in Australia and hold out hope that the government will move on this important reform.

“Whereas the government framed the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme as a silver bullet, it would have done nothing to drive investment in renewables.

“The opportunity that now presents itself is to create a package which will put a price on pollution, drive a renewable energy boom and invest in carbon in the landscape.”

Listen to Christine Milne:

Audio of Senator Milne’s doorstop in Hobart is here:


Topics discussed include:

• Death of another young Australian soldier in Afghanistan;
• Treasurer Swan’s National Press Club speech;
• The popularity of renewable energy;
• The need for more than a price on pollution to drive renewable energy.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Russell

    June 9, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Re #16
    The problem is human ingenuity has brought us to this very point.

    Only action which cuts or absorbs CO2 will immediately fix the problem, not charging people more taxes which are compensated for.

    Please answer the questions I posed to you at #10.

  2. David Leigh

    June 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    I think many of you have missed the point of carbon tax. It is intended to make power and other items more expensive, THAT IS THE OBJECTIVE! When this happens, people will start to think about power use and ways of economising. Government subsidies will help those who cannot afford the hikes in power bills and companies especially will try to bring down costs, to make them more competitive. The problem is you have no faith in human ingenuity. It is possible to rebuild our infrastructure to be carbon neutral, without any real pain. ISBN 978-2-940443-26-0 http://www.ecofys.com/Home/Publications
    It is only the corporations; the very people you state will put up the prices, that don’t want change. With a carbon friendly economy, there will be many more jobs, better prosperity and less corporations, a real plus.
    Some people want these giants to employ them because they cannot be bothered to support themselves and big business likes it that way because they can underpay, sack and generally make squillions out of the labours of working people. Small business has always been the major employer and has generally paid better wages and given better conditions. Without trying to sound like Karl Marx, give this a go because it is to your benefit. It has been suggested and I have no reason to doubt it that many lower income families will be better off due to ingenious savings in power use while receiving subsidies, the ball in your court to make it work for you.

  3. Russell

    June 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Re #13
    The mining companies haven’t done much here in Tasmania because it’s economically not worth it, Shaun.

    The other companies (McCains, Cadbury, Blundestone, Vesta) pulled up stumps for the same reasons plus the Government not assisting anyone who wasn’t woodchipping, using enormous amounts of our clean green electricity and water at almost no cost (so that one shoots your theory down) or fleecing punters pockets in various other ways.

  4. thomas

    June 8, 2011 at 1:47 am

    CARBON TAX- the labor government is ignoring the hand that feeds them,they have been told. i suggest the next election will they be told

  5. Justa Bloke

    June 8, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Barnaby (#11), the ridiculously low price proposed for carbon will have a barely perceptible effect on the companies involved. It will, however, be used by them as an excuse to raise energy prices way beyond the extra cost. The Gillard government will be blamed and the Coalition will win the next election and then proceed to do Sweet Fanny Adams about climate change.

    Either way, we are stuffed. Renewable sources are only peripheral in the ALP’s thinking and are anathema to the Libs and Nats.

  6. Barnaby Drake

    June 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    #9. The whole thinking behind the idea of a carbon tax reducing the CO2 going into the atmoshere is to make energy use more expensive and therefore less desirable. Of course the tax has to be passed onto the users, otherwise there will be no less usage. Then, in their wisdom, the government has announced that it will compensate all those who can least afford this tax, like the lower income earners, dole bludgers, pensioners etc.

    This means two things. There will be a huge bureaucracy redistributing all this tax money and all the old age pensioners will invite all the neighbours in as they will be the only ones who can afford to heat their homes in the winter.

    For the rest of us, we will turn off the central heating and rely more on wood stoves, which will add to the destruction of the forests, the real carbon sink, and add more pollution to the atmosphere.

    I think it’s a great scheme, probably dreamed up by some really enlightened backroom government advisor.

  7. Russell

    June 7, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Re #7
    Not after Fukushima, unless they are of the Thorium type.

    I understand they can be shut down immediately without the runaway issues of uranium-based reactors, there is no dangerous waste to be stored, and you can’t make nuclear weapons from it.

    Re #8
    David, a few of questions you might answer for me and the other hot-air heads here.

    How exactly is collecting a new tax going to cut carbon emissions?

    Don’t you think the polluters are just going to pass that tax on to you and me (with interest) and just keep polluting?

    When most of this tax collected is supposed to be re-directed back to the tax payer, doesn’t that mean that most of the tax isn’t actually needed to be imposed and collected in the first place?

    Do you understand that the CO2 generated actually needs to be taken out of the atmosphere?

    Do you understand that trees are the only things on this planet which can do that task?

  8. Justa Bloke

    June 7, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Everybody (including Lee Rhiannon on Q&A the other night) seems to take for granted that the polluting companies that will be carbon-taxed must then pass on this extra cost to their customers. Would somebody please point out to me where it says that it will be illegal for them to absorb this minor dent in their profits?

  9. David Leigh

    June 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    This is a good article Christine and ignore, as I’m sure you will, the negativity in this thread. It is obvious that a carbon tax is needed to stop large corporations bleeding this country dry and polluting at the same time. What is not being discussed is the other side of the coin. As christine said, there is little in the modelling about creating investment opportunities for alternative energy projects. Forget the conspiracy theories about bogey men in the City of london dreaming up new taxes to destroy Australia. Many of them have never heard of this place anyway and those who have, probably don’t put much importance on it.
    Whether you lot like it or not, carbon tax is here, as it is in the rest of the world, so let’s work with it towards a positive outcome… perhaps some of the hot air in this column can be employed as alternative energy.

  10. Barnaby Drake

    June 7, 2011 at 6:06 am

    A carbon tax does little or nothing for the atmosphere. As Craig Isherwood has pointed out, this is just another business opportunity to make money out of disasters. They are already touting ‘get in early into carbon trading as this is the new Trillion Dollar enterprise for the future on the stock exchange’.

    The solution lies not in money, but in generating less CO2 and increasing our capacity to absorb what is already there.

    And it is a simple solution, but not one favoured by commerce.

    It is simply this. Mine less coal, save the existing forests and grow more trees!

    If a carbon tax is going to be put on anything, it should be put on coal at source, and that includes exports. We cannot go on generating quantities of CO2 that are impossible for our forests to absorb. It is such a simple truth, yet no government and no business enterprise is prepared to adopt this solution, basically because it costs money rather than generates even greater profits.

    However, I am not against compensating these industries for their loss, providing that they first pay for all the liabilities associated with their past actions, like climate change, including the drought, the floods, the hurricanes, the bush fires and the rising sea levels, etc. However, it might just entail a little bit of negative gearing on their part.

  11. thomas

    June 7, 2011 at 2:33 am

    bloody tax won’t hurt you i know what will happen when the election comes bye bye you and your labor mates bye bye

  12. Russell

    June 6, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Wake up Christine & Co.!

    We need more trees and to leave the remaining forests alone to suck up the shit being pumped into the atmosphere.

    We need to be annually exponentially financially penalising the crap out of the big polluters until they change their ways or go bust.

    And finally we need to be funding the installation of wind/solar power systems in every single house in the country.

    This all could already have been done with the $Billions Rudd/Gillard wasted and continue to waste.

  13. John Wade

    June 6, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    “Every mug who rocked up to the carbon tax rallies on Sunday is being suckered by the City of London bankers for whom John Hewson and his accomplices smashed Australian manufacturing and family farms and reduced the national economy to a globalised quarry,”.

    “Their carbon ‘price’ has got absolutely nothing to do with the environment; instead, it is an economic assault on Australia, a continuation of the free trade, financial deregulation ‘reforms’ instigated by Hewson personally in the late 1970s on behalf of the City of London’s Hill Samuel bank [now Macquarie Bank].

    “The very people who shut down our factories, drove 100,000 family farmers off the land, and gave us an unstable currency, high interest rates, privatisation, private toll roads, the GST, unaffordable housing, and an unpayable $1.3 trillion foreign debt, are the very people who want to hit us with the carbon tax.”

    … says Craig Isherwood.

  14. Tom

    June 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    I’m sure Bob said just the other day that the world will be saved by turning out a few lights! Multi-Party Climate Committee – what else would you call it – say everything that needs to be said about both Labor-Green governments!

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