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In Explosive Leaked Memo, Liberals brainstorm non-market-based measures to address post-2012 GHGs

December 7, 2009

 

In a critical closed-door meeting, and with a view firmly on an impending election in which ALP holds a key policy differentiation, leaked minutes reveal a Liberal leadership seeking ideas from large industrial emitters on a post-2012 climate policy that does not involve market-based measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Instead of a market-mechanism, senior representatives propose a joint industry/government fund as the key policy, which would serve a number of key aims simultaneously: 

  1. to accelerate investment into technology to reduce GHGs,
  2. not detrimentally impact industry – particularly with a view to ensuring jobs are not driven offshore,
  3. produce certain outcomes,
  4. produce greenhouse outcomes at low-cost,
  5. be funded substantially by large energy-users.

At the meeting, the Liberals leader’s ideas  ‘were by no means concrete’ and he was ‘in search of alternatives’.  

He recognises that ‘there is a limit to what Australia could do alone’, and that Australian expenditure into this work should be leveraged.

Tony Abbot, Nick Minchin and Barnaby Joyce discussing their new low-cost strategy in late 2009?

Nope.

Merely a summary of the May 2004 leaked Low Emissions Technology Advisory Group minutes taken by Rio Tinto at the meeting with John Howard and Ian MacFarlane.

It goes to show that, five and a half years later, the Liberal leadership still have no credible policy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and are still drifting aimlessly on this issue.

They do not realise the ability of emissions pricing both to raise the revenue needed but also create the incentives for technology innovation (e.g. see David Popp’s work at Syracuse) and investment in the lowest-cost source of greenhouse gas emissions.

At least Malcolm Turnbull seems to have grasped the utility of market mechanisms, and the absurdity of a free-market Party implicitly advocating ‘command and control’ (regulatory) approaches through their rejection of market-based approaches.

Turbull also states:

The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is “crap” and you don’t need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing.

This insight rings true, as it clearly isn’t far removed from ‘pre-enlightenment’ Liberal policy on climate change.

It is too hard to see the Liberals being able to realise their folly in the two months before a vote, and back the reintroduced emissions trading scheme – the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

The Liberals are stuck in the land that time forgot, in a time warp, with a view on policy measures that are now clearly understood to be ineffectual and insufficient.  It seems like it’s back to the bad old days of 2004: all smoke and mirrors, but no action – other than to pass ‘the pub test’, to use the then-Liberal leader’s words.

The world has moved on, but has Australia?

Will we be tired of being sold the same horse twice, when asked at the polls?

Or can the electorate call out the Liberals for the sham policy they are attempting to pursue, on this issue of deep environmental and economic significance?

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