If the government is going to jump on the climate change/greenhouse bandwagon then the least they could do is actually enact legislation that’s going to go a way to solving the problem in the long term, rather than just introduce a reactionary policy that will cause more harm than good.
The problem with both the exiting government plan and the proposed coalition plan is that they don’t really encourage heavy polluters to really look at investing in research and development into new technology that will solve the problem of protecting the environment in a world driven by industry and technology.
Both sides of politics are not looking forward, to the promise of new, cleaner technology; instead they focus on penalising existing industry for merely existing. All this is going to do is drive up the prices for products whose manufacturing process is polluting. Taxing polluters, without encouraging innovation, just doesn’t work. Creating a new tax, without a final purpose doesn’t accomplish anything. All these proposals are going to do is drive up the cost of living for families that are already going to struggle as mortgage payments trend upwards with an improving economy.
Even this week, the cost of electricity in New South Wales is due to rise by 60%-odd (some $1200 for some families) over the next couple of years, due in part to the power generation companies having to incorporate the governments carbon tax into their pricing. But there’s no move from the government to invest that money into something productive and no real plan to help us move away from coal-fired electricity.
How about a change of tact?
How about – and this is a shocking idea coupled with an over-used metaphor I know – we look to cure the disease rather than just treat the symptoms.
While making it very expensive to run businesses that pollute will solve the problem of global warming, narrowly focussing on such a small part of the picture is only going to cause different problems in other parts of the country.
Any carbon trading scheme or emissions reductions strategy can’t simply be a tax on companies that will just be passed over to consumers. That misses the point completely and doesn’t bring us any closer to solving the problem. Without any plan to encourage development into newer, cleaner technologies the only thing that we’re going to get out of an ETS program is significantly increased costs of living that are just going to make it unnecessarily hard for families that are already struggling to make ends meet.
So why don’t we work it both ways? Sure, have a tax on businesses that are heavily polluting. But don’t just take that money and squirrel it away in another part of the budget; take it and fund research into ways to make these industries less polluting. Create new, brilliant, cleaner ways of making things. Actually try to do something positive and proactive.
Reducing our pollution is a noble goal, and one that we should strive for. But it shouldn’t be just clamping down on current polluters. We need to encourage a shift in thinking away from our industrial revolution past and into a cleaner, smarter future.
Mind you, we’re not so much saving the planet as we are saving ourselves. This lump of rock will be orbiting the sun long after we’re gone.