Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Carbon Tax - is it worth it?

I recently received this in an email from ninja (someone I used to go to University with):

Carbon Tax explanation. EVERYONE can understand when it’s put like this...

ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) tax for dummies - regardless of your political persuasion. Let's put this into a bit of perspective for laymen!

ETS is another tax. It is equal to putting up the GST to 12.5% which would be unacceptable and produce an outcry.

Read the following analogy and you will realize the insignificance of carbon dioxide as a weather controller.

Pass on to all in your address book including politicians and may be they will listen to their constituents, rather than vested interests which stand to gain by the ETS.

Here's a practical way to understand Julia Gillard’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
Imagine 1 kilometer of atmosphere and we want to get rid of the carbon pollution in it created by human activity. Let's go for a walk along it.
  • The first 770 meters are Nitrogen.
  • The next 210 meters are Oxygen.
  • That's 980 meters of the 1 kilometer.
  • 20 meters to go.
  • The next 10 meters are water vapor.
  • 10 meters left.
  • 9 meters are argon.
  • Just 1 more meter.
  • A few gases make up the first bit of that last meter.
  • The last 38 centimeters of the kilometer - that's carbon dioxide.
  • A bit over one foot.
  • 97% of that is produced by Mother Nature. It’s natural.
  • Out of our journey of one kilometer, there are just 12 millimeters left.
  • Just over a centimeter - about half an inch.
  • That’s the amount of carbon dioxide that global human activity puts into the atmosphere.
  • And of those 12 millimeters Australia puts in 0.18 of a millimeter.
  • Less than the thickness of a hair. Out of a kilometer!
As a hair is to a kilometer - so is Australia 's contribution to what Julia Gillard calls Carbon Pollution.

Imagine Brisbane's new Gateway Bridge, ready to be opened by Julia Gillard. It's been polished, painted and scrubbed by an army of workers till its 1 kilometer length is surgically clean. Except that Julia Gillard says we have a huge problem, the bridge is polluted - there's a human hair on the roadway. We'd laugh ourselves silly.

There are plenty of real pollution problems to worry about.

It's hard to imagine that Australia's contribution to carbon dioxide in the world's atmosphere is one of the more pressing ones. And I can't believe that a new tax on everything is the only way to blow that pesky hair away.

Pass this on quickly while the ETS is being debated in Federal Parliament.

I do not know about the validity or the truth behind the analogy, but it made me think.

I don't oppose a carbon tax. Not at all. I believe something which is implemented to take care of the environment is a good idea. Something which stops people from just wasting resources on this finite planet is a good idea.

What I oppose is what will happen to the revenue of the carbon tax once it is collected. Will the funds be allocated correctly? Take for instance the tax on cigarettes. Around 2005, it raised over $6 billion in revenue for the Australian government. I would say it would exceed that amount today. My query is where does that $6 billion in revenue go? I doubt it would all go back to the health systems. Ministers need to pay for their superannuation funds, their air flights, and their spending budgets. The same can be said about the vehicle fuel excise, which should be used to upgrade the infrastructure / roads of Australia, but rarely is.

With the current "sales campaign" of the government, they have allocated $25 million to spend in "educating" the Australian public on carbon tax. Where did that money come from?

While I do not have a problem with the principle of the carbon tax, I do have a huge concern over the accountability of the funds raised in this manner. I seriously doubt it will be used to make the environment of this planet any better.

I welcome anyone's comments on anything I have written in this article, as well as anyone who can sustain or refute ninja's email. Is it misinformation, or is the government trying to increase taxes by pulling to wool over the eyes of the Australian tax payer? Will it mean an increase of conscious companies trying to clean up their businesses, or will it just mean an increase in the cost of living for all Australians? I hope this tax does not get implemented, and then Australians just get used to living in a more expensive society with less money...


  1. Politicians - what do you expect? Not to mention that all the technology to reduce carbon emissions in Australia will be imported from Europe. Millions and millions of dollars leaving the country.

  2. Anon; What do u think the mining giants are doing to our country, right, this, second? Exporting billions of dollars of YOUR land to China to fund there industrial revolution (which is causing a good chunk of the climate change phenomenon). We then purchase the goods back at inflated prices in inferior products because we sent all our manufacturing jobs over there ion the 90s - not only propelling a communist economny into world superpower, but devaluing and raping our land in the process.

    I dont expect you to understand, most australians are selfish, narrow minded, short sighted individuals. Our country was built on gold miners, coal miners, iron ore miners, oil riggers and gas riggers. The resource giants are so entangled in our economy that they own the government and hold the government to ransom, having laws enacted (ie. banning kronic) and controlling the papers with their advertising dollars.

    All for another 50-100 years, until there is nothing left. The bogans will not longer be able to afford fuel to power their V8s, which will all be made in China because the government has thrown all the labouring jobs overseas thinking the mining sector was going to look after us after they had done making money.

    I support a carbon tax because pig-headed australians need to understand that their lifestyles have reprocussions. Where will the profit go? Sure a heep will be spent on advertising and selling it to dumbasses who dont understand (just like every other policy), but its also earmarked for renewable energy projects (a funding a new government department) and subsidies for this emerging renewable, green industries.... All it will take is for one australian company to innovate and perfect that next generation of energy, and suddenly OPEC nations will look like an African economy in comparison. Thats europes plan anyway, we are following there lead, like u point out.

    PS. Personally i would like to see every dollar generated from this tax to be spent buying up large chunks rainforest over the world and protecting our oceans. They are, afterall, the reason why we can no longer fend off the effects of carbon emmssions. Peru actually has a fund that they want 35billion dollars put into every year to stop them from mining oil from a pristine section of national park. Thats a worthy cause, it will make a different to the plantet on a global scale, but can u imagine selling that to the australian public? NOT - A - CHANCE!

  3. I used to get really mad at the idea of trying to reduce Australia's carbon emissions and thinking it would actually lower world emissions.

    THEN...it became clear to me that there are 2 sides to this argument and they are not the ones you first think of.

    As a practical person I had missed the other view point but here it is.

    there is the PRACTICAL side and the ETHICAL side and both are valid points of view.

    the practical side says quite simply that a global reduction in greenhouse gases and carbon emisions cannot be affected by reducing the mere 1.5% of emissions in Australia because the rest of the world holds the practical key to this problem.

    Now here is the other side.
    The ETHICAL side says that per head of population Australians put out more carbon dioxide(and its doubtful that this is a pollutant) than most other countries. Now forgetting the practical side for a bit.. we can see that asking the less developed countries to act on climate change by reducing emissions because they are so damn populated compared to us is hypocritical if we dont act ourselves. They ...China ..India etc.. will just say 'blow it out your ear' because we have been polluting for so much longer becaus of our industrialized headstart and now that they are increasing their cars on the road by huge numbers...all of a sudden we are telling them to reduce.

    So returning to the practical side... by acting in some form on climate change, we cannot affect the globe directly, but it puts us in a more favourable condition to convince others to act because we are upholding our ethical obligation to act.

    In the end it does not really matter what we do...it wount make a direct practical difference, but for those of you that can reach above that argument and realise that we need to convince others to act without seeming like hypocrits, then it can affect the globe INDIRECTLY.

    as an asside, and its only an observation...do we really trust the current government to administer a new discriminatory tax , when recent much simpler govt projects have not gone quite right.

    also, with the current shaky greece and USA and Europe and UK financial positions... do we need to go screwing around with the world's most respected economy..even if it is small. perhaps we ought to have a second look at this in the context of the world economy and the fact that the Australian Reserve Bank has just left of the need to raise intererst rates for the first time in quite a few months.

    that's my 2 bobs...oh.. make that 3 bobs worth better exchange rate.

  4. Like you and the rest of the working Australians in the country, I have no idea where the funds will go either. And would you believe Julia and her government if they said so...probably not.

    If it happens to fund flights for politicians or even transport them in V8 Holden Caprice’s then what a useless scheme it is after all.

    But I have a suggestion for the government and if they are serious about lowering carbon emissions then that carbon tax should fund every Australian household, business and factory with Solar or LPG powered solutions; this will win support of all Australians, working or not. We don’t want your lousy tax cuts that are useless anyway, the low income earners would do better if they had solar power to reduce the bills. A standard vehicle cost 700 dollars a year in registration, multiply that by two for husband and wife and your lousy tax incentives can’t even cover that… take the money back its useless.

    Pass this onto Julia before someone places a tax on her for speaking...too much carbon coming out from her mouth we are all sick from hearing her voice.