The Spectator – a truly excellent "must read" article

Tom Switzer, former advisor to ex-Liberal leader Brendan Nelson, writes a timely and perceptive article in The Spectator about the position of the Coalition in the climate change debate. I encourage you to read it all. Here are a few key quotes:

Amid economic uncertainty, the new Liberal leader insists that ‘whatever Australia does will be ineffective unless it is part of a global solution’; and yet he also remains committed to a 2011 or 2012 start date for the implementation of an ETS regardless of the outcome of the Copenhagen global conference in December 2009.

Which raises the obvious point: why even make plans to implement an ETS now? If the world’s major emitters such as China, India and the US — which together will account for more than 50 per cent of global emissions by 2030 — won’t participate in any serious carbon reduction plans, why should Australia — which will account for only 1 per cent of global emissions — slash emissions to 60 per cent of 2000 levels in the next 40 years?

Absolutely – why are politicians incapable of grasping this blindingly obvious point?

In the midst of a global financial crisis, moreover, it is surely Pollyanna-ish to think the world will somehow reach a consensus on climate change. The Chinese government is not only refusing to cut its emissions; it is building a new coal-fired plant nearly every week. The Indian government is not only rejecting Rudd-style cuts; it is unashamedly saying poverty poses a greater threat to its people than climate change.

Spot on again.

In any case, conservatives won’t be able to attack effectively the government’s global warming scheme if they remain carbon copies of Labor. When all is said and done, Turnbull and his shadow environment minister Greg Hunt agree with virtually everything that Rudd and his climate change minister Penny Wong say about taxing industry and redistributing the proceeds at potentially huge cost to the economy.

The only point of difference is the start date: the government supports a deadline of 2010; the opposition says no later than 2012 — no matter what the rest of the world does. But by putting forward a simple, sharp critique of this costly and risky scheme at a time of global economic turmoil and when no global consensus exists, the Coalition would be better able to feel the pain of battlers who will suffer most from higher energy prices as companies pass on costs.

It is nothing short of brilliant. READ IT ALL!

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