…and wants its climate change policy back. Rather than actually doing taking an emissions trading scheme policy to an election, we’re getting a “Citizens’ Assembly – to examine over 12 months the evidence on climate change, the case for action and the possible consequences of introducing a market-based approach to limiting and reducing carbon emissions.”
There’s coverage everywhere, but frankly you’d be better off reading Gillard’s actual speech.
The idea of a randomly selected consultative body is an interesting one, related to notions of deliberative democracy the more sociologically-inclined LP hivemind members can discuss better than I!
On this particular issue, however, the time for extended deliberations is long, long past. We’ve been discussing climate change for decades. Emissions trading has been on the agenda under three Prime Ministers. The Howard government proposed an ETS before the 2007 election. The merits of carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, and hybrid schemes like Warwick McKibbin’s have been debated to death. Big business has done its sums, and the businesses most affected mainly want to fix the ground rules on which they will operate for the next few decades.
Gillard knows this – indeed, the speech has actually locked in a key part of the final shape of the scheme that will result from this process. From the speech:
To give industry certainty about future investment, the Government will ensure that emission baselines for industry assistance will not be increased – they will be as determined under the CPRS.
I think the endgame’s pretty clear – we will eventually end up with an emissions trading scheme, and it will look very much like the CPRS. There will be plenty of pork for Big Carbon, though not necessarily quite as much as in the Turnbull-Rudd compromise.
But in the name of small target election strategies, we’ll go through another couple of years of pseudo-consultation.
Elsewhere: Right on cue, Mark’s just popped up at the ABC’s campaign diary blog to give his take. Read the whole thing, but it seems we are basically of a like mind in our conclusions:
Consensus is never achievable in a democracy. This announcement, I fear, is a recipe for real inaction rather than moving forward.
Update: Tim Dunlop responds. He makes the obvious point – clearly, the government believes that support for an ETS is soft at best (and shifted from 2007), and a potentially election-losing issue in the face of an Abbott-led scare campaign. Christine Milne has apress release out that, as well as skewering the consultation process, contains some good points about the other announcements in the package.
More update: Press release from the Australia Institute: “The idea that we can delegate this to a citizens’
assembly when the government already has expert advice from Professor Ross Garnaut and the Chief Scientist to name two is absurd.”
Yet more: Bernard Keane in Crikey, who is also appalled by the policy, and notes the promise to ensure that any new coal-fired power stations are “carbon capture ready” presumably doesn’t apply to projects like the planned plants in WA and NSW, as they’re already in the planning approval process. In any case, what is a “carbon-capture-ready” power station when the technology is still so immature that there are no commercial-scale integrated examples in operation anywhere in the world?
And more: Quiggin. I think we have consensus – Quiggin is equally scathing.