Home > Environment, Oz Politics > Taking Penny Wong at her word

Taking Penny Wong at her word

February 24th, 2009

I watched Penny Wong on the 7:30 report defending the government’s emissions trading scheme against the criticism, made here and elsewhere, that initiatives such as the government’s home insulation scheme will have no effect except to reduce the price of permits and therefore the costs faced by large emitters. She did a very professional job, neither denying the criticism (which she couldn’t honestly do) nor conceding its validity.

In a long interview, she made only one substantive point, which has also been made elsewhere. By reducing the cost of reaching an emissions target, initiatives like the insulation scheme will make it easier for the government to set more ambitious targets.

I’m happy to take her at her word. The policy debate leading up to the choice of a 5/15 target was undertaken before the full severity of the financial crisis and the need for a $42 billion stimulus became apparent. So, having introduced a new measure to reduce emissions, the government is already in a position to tighten the target by an amount equal to the emissions saved.

If the package is passed unamended, there won’t be another opportunity until 2020, at least without hugely increased competition. So, I’m waiting eagerly for the announcement.

Categories: Environment, Oz Politics Tags:
  1. Chris Warren
    February 24th, 2009 at 09:30 | #1

    I personally think the key environmental question is population growth.

    It may seem trivial, but if the earth’s population doubles as many times as it already has – there will not be enough standing room left.

    No economist (that I am aware of) has produced a viable economic model based on fixed debt and fixed population. Penny Wong is simply an irrelevant spin-meister.

  2. jquiggin
    February 24th, 2009 at 10:10 | #2

    Chris, I have no idea where “fixed debt” comes into the story, but I’ll comment as regards population.

    Obviously, population is important, but there are only a limited range of policy options (educating women, increasing access to family planning, providing social security in old age) that affect it much. IIRC, we still have some limits (introduced to placate Harradine and maintained to placate Fielding) on assisting overseas family planning efforts. Thanks to Bush and the Repugs, the same is true in the US. Getting rid of these would be a big step.

    Given sensible policies and favorable social trends, global population should stabilise at 8-9 billion mid-century and perhaps decline slowly thereafter.

    That’s a necessary but not sufficient condition for stabilising global climate, so I don’t agree with your comment.

  3. Chris Warren
    February 24th, 2009 at 10:39 | #3


    The point is – you need a viable economic model to obtain a stable global climate.

    Debt and population load drive economies into expedient, anti-environmental, directions.

    You cannot discuss climate change without looking at the root drivers of adverse political economic trends – debt and population.

    False political economy causes adverse climate change (in an attempt to maintain itself).

    There is no other real cause of climate change.

  4. Tony G
    February 24th, 2009 at 11:07 | #4

    “if the earth’s population doubles as many times as it already has – there will not be enough standing room left.”

    Chris, that’s CRAP, the worlds population is unlikely to grow at the same rate as it did when increasing from 2 people to 6 billion. In fact it is going to start declining very soon.

    If you put the whole worlds population into a city the density of Singapore it would only take up a land area the size of South Australia.

    This planet can sustain many billions more. What do you crazy pagans want to do, start castration programs.

  5. Bruce Littleboy
    February 24th, 2009 at 11:08 | #5

    Hmmm. So insulation is a bad idea because it reduces the price of a given amount of permits. So does replacing the low-energy bulbs we’ve recently put in with those we’ve recently taken out beneficially raise the permit price? As this is hot work, I’ll be running my air conditioning, but this also drives up the permit price and thus sends the right signal to electricity suppliers. I’ll do anything to help.
    [Apology for irony to the point of sarcasm.]

    Too many permits (and given away) and coverage too narrow. Designed to fail, wouldn’t you say? If the trial “fails”, the scheme won’t be extended. [Apology for cynicism concerning social democracy.]

  6. Alanna
    February 24th, 2009 at 11:31 | #6

    Tony G#4 There is a new brand being developed called CIALESS!

  7. Ikonoclast
    February 24th, 2009 at 12:03 | #7

    Tony G, a word of advice. Calling people “crazy pagans” does not impress anybody. You are clearly not seeking to argue your case nor are you trying to win over people with your charm. That leaves gratuitous abuse as your only motive.

  8. Hermit
    February 24th, 2009 at 12:12 | #8

    The issue is not whether permits are too cheap but whether an appropriate and verifiable emissions reduction has been achieved. I find it extraordinary that after years of learned debate and perhaps hundreds of submissions to formal enquiries that some old dodderers can hijack to whole process. Seemingly these conservatives have only just started thinking about climate change this week and concluded it is not a problem.

    More on ‘verifiable’; we know how much CO2 Latrobe Valley power stations and the aluminium industry generates. We don’t really know which farms and forests are net absorbers or emitters. Other claimed offsets may be exaggerated, mistimed or simply irrelevant. Therefore emissions reductions should concentrate on what we can observe and measure. Even if the industry is ‘essential’ or export-oriented then other remedies must apply while emissions penalties are unchanged. Perhaps those remedies should apply to their customers or competitors.

    As long as the nincompoops fiddle with special treatment for favoured sectors or nitpicking over grey areas any emissions reductions scheme will flounder. Whatever form it takes it should be transparent, even handed and disciplined.

  9. jquiggin
    February 24th, 2009 at 12:16 | #9

    Bruce, I’ve discovered many times that irony is a dangerous weapon and even more so on the Internets. In this case, I’m not at all sure what you mean to say.

    But if I read you correctly, you’ve missed the point. Under current policies, insulation subsidies will not affect the level of CO2 emissions, but will lower the price of permits. Should you perversely decide to go back to high-energy light bulbs, this not affect the level of CO2 emissions, but will raise the price of permits. Unless you have strong feelings about the welfare of the owners of emissions-intensive industries, neither action will be good or bad, and nothing you do can have any effect on the level of emissions.

    As (I think) you go on to say, the real problem is too many permits. If the target were right, there would be no need for additional voluntary action.

    Finally, I don’t think the scheme is designed to fail. Rather it’s a product of political calculations based on a deal with the Liberals, calculations that I think will prove wrong.

  10. carbonsink
    February 24th, 2009 at 12:16 | #10

    I watched Penny Wong on the 7:30 report defending the government’s emissions trading scheme against the criticism

    I tried, but starting nodding off 30 seconds into the interview. I have a sneaking suspicion Penny Wong may be a robot. She’s so controlled. You can see why Garrett was never going to be minister for climate change.

    Top Gear was a far more entertaining option 🙂

  11. O6
    February 24th, 2009 at 12:23 | #11

    Let’s not lose sight of the point that individual choice of low emission technology will have an effect if it spreads widely enough. It therefore ought to be encouraged by governments of all persuasions, regardless of how it influences prices in other markets. Germany and Austria have energy-intensive export industries based on engineering and they’re going to achieve goals like 20% renewable energy quite soon through targeted incentives while we just make jokes.
    It’s a bit late for jokes, unless they’re really good ones, and i’ve seen none of them on this thread.

  12. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 24th, 2009 at 12:45 | #12

    A carbon tax is still a better idea than an ETS. The link offers my take on Penny Wong.


    A carbon tax allows voluntary action to exist along side policy based action. It is also a cheaper vehicle to the same destination.


    Regarding population. The worlds fertility rate is rapidly declining and may well be at or below the replacement rates within little more than a decade (China was pretty much there even before the one child policy and India is headed that way). Of course population will still grow for many decades to come due to demographic inertia however short of some major wars there isn’t much more that can be done on this issue.

  13. JoelP
    February 24th, 2009 at 13:30 | #13

    “Unless you have strong feelings about the welfare of the owners of emissions-intensive industries, neither action will be good or bad, and nothing you do can have any effect on the level of emissions.”

    Of course, lower emission permits means lower cost of the CPRS on consmuers, which means even more for low-income consumers who have less discressionary spending to cover the increased cost.

    This is the case when permit costs are passed on to the consumer, which will be the majority of products and services (and every opportunity industry gets).

    So… voluntary energy efficiency becomes a social welfare activity?

  14. JoelP
    February 24th, 2009 at 13:32 | #14

    Thinking out loud, what is the effect of lower permit prices when an international market for permits arises?

    Australia sells carbon efficiency on the global market (assuming our price is lower than the global price)?

    Still, this does nothing to reduce overall global emissions, which is the end game.

  15. JoelP
    February 24th, 2009 at 13:35 | #15

    “A carbon tax allows voluntary action to exist along side policy based action. It is also a cheaper vehicle to the same destination.”

    Though voluntary action does not provide the forecasting and certainty to drive technological innovation the way that state based action does.

  16. Ikonoclast
    February 24th, 2009 at 13:48 | #16

    I have an innate distrust of complex ideas when simple ideas will suffice. An ETS (emissions trading scheme) is a complex idea compared to a carbon tax which is a relatively simple idea.

    I have an innate distrust of schemes which can be rorted and distorted in many ways (ETS) as opposed to schemes which can only be rorted and distorted in relatively few ways (carbon tax).

    The ETS suffers from complexity, greater susceptibility to government duplicity and greater susceptibility to corporate lobbying, rorting and distortion.

    I am suspicious when people want to play a complex policy game when a simple policy game would suffice. I detect the old tricks of obfuscation, wedge politics and selective compensation in an ETS.

    I want to know how an ETS (or a carbon tax for that matter) can make any sense when there is no mention of first removing the perverse incentives for fossil fuel use. Why is this issue not even being raised in the debate?

    The list is long and worth many billions (sorry for caps);
    Ethanol production which is an energy sink)

    I took the above list from the following paper. it might be slightly dated but still largely correct.


    Until the government talks about removing these subsidies they are not even remotely serious. Penny Wong’s evasiveness says it all.

  17. Chris Warren
    February 24th, 2009 at 13:50 | #17

    Tony G

    Mend your speech a little – lest it mar your fortune.

    Strong language indicates weak thought.

  18. Bruce Littleboy
    February 24th, 2009 at 13:52 | #18

    Reply to JQ 9

    I agree! (Mostly.)

    I have been wondering why some people in the letters pages and the blogscape (not JQ) have been saying that lower permit prices are bad because it’ll only make it easier (cheaper) for naughty polluters to buy permits. My good deeds will reward the bad behaviour of others, they complain. I don’t think my sarcastic barbs are directed against straw people…

    Wouldn’t you concede that political compromises were extracted by those who want the system to be ineffectual? If so, it is “as if” the system was designed to fail.

  19. Chris Warren
    February 24th, 2009 at 14:02 | #19

    Tony G

    It is just impossible to discuss things sensibly with people like you.

    You throw facts into disrupt discussion that do not even make sense when it is just so easy to check.

    Just use Google –

    Population density of Singapore – 16,392 per sq mile.

    World population – 6.72 billion.

    Required area –

    412,396 square miles.

    Area of Adelaide – 705 square miles.

    Required number of Adelaide – 585.

    This is a good representation of the size of your credibility gap.

  20. Tony G
    February 24th, 2009 at 14:21 | #20

    OK, SORRY if I offended anybody. Maybe I should change my handle to curmudgeon?

    Anyway, considering the only evidence you guys have is a microscopic increase in atmospheric co2 it is hard not to compare the AGW phenomenon with EHECATL.

  21. Alanna
    February 24th, 2009 at 14:27 | #21

    After looking at your link Tony maybe you should change your handle to “Troublemaker G”.

  22. Tim Macknay (aka Tim M)
    February 24th, 2009 at 14:35 | #22

    Chris, much as I hesitate to come to Tony G’s defence, he actually said the population would fit into South Australia, not Adelaide.

  23. carbonsink
    February 24th, 2009 at 14:53 | #23

    Don’t feed the denialists people.

  24. nanks
    February 24th, 2009 at 15:00 | #24

    Whether it is Sth Australia or Australia the response from TG is irrelevent as people require more space to live than that which they stand on.
    Unless of course we develop the ability to photosynthesise – although even then we’d probably need to stand with our arms outstretched and worry about shade from the neighbours.

  25. Mark
    February 24th, 2009 at 15:11 | #25

    The government have always made a point that they will allow/encourage individuals to participate in the carbon markets by buying their own carbon credits. This will remove carbon credits from the market & raise the prices in the opposite way that energy efficiency lowers prices etc, and looks like a very good way to get environmental benefit for $s.
    I always wondered this. If the govt gives me, as a middle income earner, $500 of environmental handout to become more energy efficient, the best way I can use the money to benefit the environment is to offset some of my emissions by buying carbon credits. Am I allowed to do that? Can we all do that?
    If there’s a way of getting 100% of $1 of mine to go to the govt by buying carbon credits, and then have it come back to me via some kind of govt enviro-efficiency-fund, and then back to the govt via carbon credits etc etc, then I dry up the whole of the CPRS with $1 (until I go and buy a chocolate bar instead). Obviously that would be crazy, but how crazy? What’s stopping it?

  26. Chris Warren
    February 24th, 2009 at 15:14 | #26


    No matter – just do the sums and you will see that fitting into South Australia is also wrong.

    There are so many logical errors with his approach that it was illegitimately provocative from the very start.

  27. Tony G
    February 24th, 2009 at 15:33 | #27


    Do the maths yourself, the Approximate figures are;

    Singapore 6336 people per square Kilometre, Sth Australia 1 million square Kilometres.

    Chris it is a “logical error” to even contemplate the world is anywhere near over populated.

    Nanks, I do not see people in Singapore with “the ability to photosynthesise”. In world terms they have a very good standard of living and the bulk of the worlds population is still striving to have a standard of living as high as a Singaporean.

  28. Chris Warren
    February 24th, 2009 at 15:45 | #28

    Tony G

    Still no data – anyway South Australia is smaller than this.

    But remind me, what is your point?

  29. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 24th, 2009 at 16:31 | #29

    Tony G – I don’t know about Singapore but Britian has not been self sufficient in food for nearly 100 years. That is not to say that it couldn’t be but clearly such places currently have a footprint larger than their domestic real estate would suggest.

  30. Michael of Summer Hill
    February 24th, 2009 at 17:45 | #30

    John, it seems like the ETS debate has somewhat changed since last week for Turnbull is now wooing the Green vote and is willing to jump into bed with Brown. This has major repercussions for Labor if the Liberals are able to secure the Green vote. But having said it is Bob Brown that is sitting pretty and both major party’s are aware of what will happen if they fail to woo the Green vote.

  31. Oldskeptic
    February 24th, 2009 at 18:30 | #31

    I’m not sure I read that correctly (ref Tony G)?

    It is not an issue about how many people you can cram into a given area, it is: can you supply food, water, energy, resources?

    There is only so much water, agricultural land, fossil fuels, etc. Plus only so much can be accessed and used at any one time (production/transport vs total reserves).

    Ok, cram everyone in the World into (say) Tasmania. Who farms? So there must be some people elsewhere all around the World doing the hard yakker, and the ships and trucks and …… and so on….. simple logical argument.

    Back to my post on the other thread … textbook cognitive dissonence.

  32. Monkey’s Uncle
    February 24th, 2009 at 18:39 | #32

    The arguments about the dangers of population growth are vastly overblown.

    Nearly every developed nation has long had birth rates well below replacement levels. And birth rates outside developed nations have been falling significantly, even though they are still above replacement levels.

    The UN predicts that world population will begin to decline around the middle of this century. I suspect it may well be sooner than that.

    Indeed, some countries like Japan, Italy and Germany have already begun to experience population decline in the past few years.

    It may be true that there are limits to the ability of the world to sustain larger populations, although this argument is often exaggerated as it ignores the fact that higher populations create economies-of-scale plus more innovation due to more intellectual capital.

    The biggest problem will be population aging and decline, which will create far more serious economic problems.

  33. Hermit
    February 24th, 2009 at 19:57 | #33

    @ Mark the big guns have to have offsets or carbon credits approved by an agency such as the European commission or by relevant departments in Australian States. Voluntary personal offsets such as those pushed by Virgin aren’t accredited. However you have to worry about the level of bureaucratic scrutiny even in the approved offsets. For example the World Bank paid/bribed Chinese CFC makers $US550m to change their refrigerant gas when changes to local laws and a few million in technology could have done the same job.

    @ TerjeP the Brits clearly are worried about future food self sufficiency. No doubt Australian TV will soon run the recent BBC doco A Farm for the Future

  34. Ubiquity
    February 24th, 2009 at 22:10 | #34

    Ikonoclasts @16 it is not hard to see the culprit in all this. The government of course, it has no incentive to remove the concessions/subsidies provided to the polluting energy providers whilst they continue to fill the governments coffers with tax revenue. It is perfectly reasonable not to expect the government to remove these incentives when the fiat currency it monopolises is central to its power and existence. The energy providers tax revenue not only legitamises the paper currency, furthermore, the energy provider (polluter) profitability is dependent on subsidies/concessions provided by the government.

    To summarise the Energy (polluting) corporations(completley under the thumb, “bought off”) are on the one hand subsidised by the governments which grow their bottom lines which then provides the tax revenue necessary for the government to maintain its financial monopoly and employ people at the same time.

    So thus the uncomfortable contradiction, the dream of an altuistic, democratically elected government that will do anything to protect the peoples interest vs the ruthless, power (revenue) thirsty government whose existence depends on its popularity, control of currency, feeding off the hard earned revenue of the people and the subsidised bottom lines of the energy corporations. I can understand your dissapointment and the enormous contradiction of having to deal with the reality of the nature of the government.

    Of course a further dimension to this argument is that the government has no courage or appetite for (“Green” )change (plenty of rhetoric). The saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. … epitomises their attitude and approach in a democracy and evidently in policies to do with sustainability of our world.

  35. Chris Warren
    February 24th, 2009 at 22:11 | #35

    Monkey’s Uncle

    You should include some references for your statements. Most of what you said, appears to be plagiarised from sources such as:


    But you did not include the key conclusion, viz;

    “Of course, this value still ensures the continuing rapid growth of the human population as a whole, even if some regions may decline.”

    You also did not indicate that the declines in Germany, Japan and Italy are around one tenth of 1 percent. This is trivial in comparison to the rest of the world.

    You did not mention that some declines are a statistical anomaly due to deaths from African AIDSHIV.

    It is not relevant that the UN predicts population after 2050 as this is not substantiated. The UN only really predicts a large (2.5 billion) increase until 2050; see

    UN Population Report.

    Clearly, you performed the usual tricks, to invent a case, either directly opposite to the evidence, or not consistent with the main thrust of the evidence.

    An extra 2.5 billion people by 2050, even with current carbon reductions, will still cause adverse climate change.

    The earth has a limited carrying capacity and the climate can be changed from human induced changes to the atmosphere.

  36. Tony G
    February 24th, 2009 at 22:27 | #36

    Chris @ 28

    “But remind me, what is your point?”

    Chris @ 1 and JQ @ 2 stated that because of their EHECATL worshipping, they needed to have a “fixed population” and that “the key environmental question is population growth.”

    It is quite possible to fit the worlds population into an urban area the size of Sth Australia with an equivalent density to that of Singapore.

    It is not a question of having 6 billion people self sufficiently living on 1 million square kilometres. They would still have the other 150 million square kilometres of the worlds land area to rape, pillage or cultivated before they got onto exploiting the other 361,800,000 sq km of oceans.

    To imply “there will not be enough standing room left.” is lunacy.

    6 Billion people over 500,000,000 sq km of planet is insignificant. But then again so is a 0.007% change in the atmospheres composition.

  37. Dennis Webb
    February 24th, 2009 at 22:59 | #37

    Jennifer Marohasy is getting involved in the ETS issue but not at her blog. Interesting petition with lots of signatures and comment here:

  38. Chris Warren
    February 25th, 2009 at 08:13 | #38

    Tony G

    The point is that you cannot keep on doubling the population as this leads to the fallacy of the pond, as anyone who has explored exponential growth will tell you.

    You do not solve this issue by implying that everyone can live like Singapore – because then what? how do you turn off doubling at this juncture?

    As you know, the CO2 concentration is rapidly increasing and as any chemist will tell you, changing concentrations chages chemical behaviour. The measurement of this concentration is not as relevant as the effect of the concentration.

    The VIP is – all these changes are human induced, and a key driver is population increase, itself required by the current economic paradigm – capitalism.

    As I mentioned before – no economist I am aware of has produced any model of capitalism that does not require either exponential population growth or exponential debt growth.

    So economists including UN boffins weakly suggesting tha population may decline in the future are engaging in poor scholarship and gambling away our future.

    More information is at: Exponential growth .

    The author concludes:

    “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist” –Kenneth Boulding

    I agree with this.

    Economists cannot escape blame because their growth model, and associated policies (mouthed by Wong and Co.), are responsible.

    John Quiggin’s vague assurance [above] that “given sensible policies and favourable social trends” should lead to slow declines after mid century has no economic basis.

  39. Bruce Littleboy
    February 25th, 2009 at 09:47 | #39

    Genuine question:
    Is there any reason why permits could not expire after a specified time? If one wanted to gradually reduce total emissions, instead of having to enter the market to buy permits and destroy them, why not let some lapse automatically? The pricing would be a version of the equation used to price bonds according to their maturity. Here there is a zero repayment on maturity, so their market price would decline over time. Some could be 5, 10, 15 or 20 years of validity, while others could be like consols, bonds of infinite life. Is this idea new or worthwhile?

  40. observa
    February 25th, 2009 at 10:05 | #40

    I’ll give you a couple of practical examples of so called ‘green’ policy that make me an avowed skeptic of all these shiny new quantity control crusaders. You need only look no further than our Prius preferencing PM, recalling he drives one and handed out $45mill of taxpayer resources to Toyota to keep up his preferred good green work. Hold that thought because this is our supreme quantity control leader with all the combined wisdom and analytical capacity of Treasury at his disposal we’re talking about here. So let’s compare their combined brainpower choice of the commercial state of the art hybrid Prius with that of mine, for the best alternative state of the art conventional 1.5L petrol engine car, the Mitsubishi Colt for the missus.

    From Redbook new car specs(make a note of that Treasury boys)both cars have 1.5L petrol engines with CVT transmissions, alloys, power windows and mirrors, ABS and EBD braking, aircon and audio/MP3. Now for the differences(Colt first, Prius second as will become clear) Price- $17290/$37400 Mass- 1050kg/1295kg Power- 77kw/57kw Torque- 132nm/115nm Economy 5.6Lper100km/4.4Lper100km Warranty- Colt-5yrs/130000km roadside assist PLUS 10yrs/160000km power train warranty Prius- only 3yrs/100000km warranty. Now take an average owner driving 160000km per year for 10 years. The Prius saves 5.6-4.4=1.2L/100km of fuel which is 1920Litres of fuel over the 10 years but the Colt owner has an extra $20,110 to play with up front(we’ll exclude the extra stamp duty, insurance and finance costs of the Prius here for resource comparisons here but that aint hay and this Austrian doesn’t have access to Glenn Steven’s printing press)Furthermore I’m 6’4″ and fit in both just fine albeit I rub my head on the ceiling in the back of the sloping backed Prius, unlike the Colt, but no matter Kev and MrsO are a bit more average than yours truly, not that MrsO would let me get away with that one.

    Twenty one thousand one hundred and ten dollars difference in resource price sounds a lot more long hand than $20110 and it certainly is, because for that opportunity cost of similar resources, you can have a 2KW solar to grid system on your roof, which will average around 10Kw of electricity output per day around my neck of the woods. Bear in mind when I actually did that Kev gave me some of that Glenn money to the tune of $9500 including RECs but we’ll leave that out for true opportunity cost calculations.

    Now the Colt produces 134g of CO2 per km while the Prius produces 106g/km, which is 21.440tonnes and 16.96tonnes respectively for 160000km over 10 years, a difference of 4.48tonnes in total. However that 2kw solar to the grid system can save 36,500kwhrs of coal fired electricity over that time at 950g/kwhr, a total of 34.675 tonnes of CO2. That’s more than double the total CO2 from driving the Prius around for 16000km for 10 years. To borrow a lady’s maxim- Please explain Kevin and Treasury boffins?

    Next to a current exemplar of their brave new world of carbon credit creation. Click on the Envirosaver website and their nice green froggy and he’ll come and change your incandescent light bulbs and shower heads for free. That’s nice of him because he’s duly accredited by some public servants somewhere and is actually going to calculate the average GG savings due to lighting and hot water savings, thereby creating some emissions private propert rights forever more. They can be sold to power utilities to onsell to ‘greenpower’ consumers, but they can also be sold to the highest bidder/speculator anywhere. Oh well it’s all in a good cause you might say until you look deeper at that FAQ link. Do they change shower heads if you’re on gas? Well no because the object of the game isn’t to save gas fossil fuels, but create green electricity credits, which is why the froggy won’t come back if you don’t like the shower head or globes afterwards. You can swap the lot for downlights and change the shower head after he’s gone, but the froggy is off for good with those one off carbon credits. If you’re having trouble with China Inc taking over certain physical resource property rights at present I can understand if you’re a bit nervous about this brave new world of derivatives creation, particularly in the current financial environment.

    That’s essentially what I see as the tip of the iceberg of the prospect of thousands of well meaning Kevins and froggies all going about their morally important quantity control work and making a mockery of those who envisage they’ll only cost us 1% of GDP growth. They know the quantity of everything and the price/opportunity cost of nothing.

  41. conrad
    February 25th, 2009 at 10:09 | #41

    “Population density of Singapore – 16,392 per sq mile. World population – 6.72 billion.?”

    How about
    Density of Singapore = 6636 per km squared
    Size of Melbourne = 8806 km’s squared

    6646 * 8806 = 58436616

    6.72 Billion / 58 Million.

    115 Cities the size of Melbourne = So what. Even if Tony G’s figures are wrong, it’s pretty clear that how many people we can have all depends on how people are willing to live.

  42. Tony G
    February 25th, 2009 at 10:21 | #42

    Chris, the days of the worlds population doubling are long gone.

    Shortly, it will be a problem maintaining the existing levels of population, we are on the precipice of a declining world population.

    “and a key driver is population increase, itself required by the current economic paradigm – capitalism.”

    Chris, the Capitalist growth model is driving population decline. As a countries per capita GDP increases its total fertility rate (TFR) declines below the Replacement Rate. Per capita GDP rates have now put the world fertility rate below 2.3 per 1000, the level required just to maintain the existing population.

    “The measurement of this concentration is not as relevant as the effect of the concentration.”

    Chris we are talking about carbon, it is not a poison plants and the environment need it.

    Chris, the philosophies behind AGW are fantasy.


    “depends on how people are willing to live.” and the world *minimum standard* should be set at the level of the Singaporeans.

  43. conrad
    February 25th, 2009 at 10:41 | #43

    TonyG — if Singapore is the minimum standard, it’s all fine by me. It looks like a pretty good place to live.

    Incidentally, speaking of how little space people really need to live, this article out today was interesting:


    Apparently those little farms down at Werribee supply _half_ of Australia’s vegetables! So if people stopped eating so much meat in places like Australia, you would save even space.

  44. Chris Warren
    February 25th, 2009 at 10:52 | #44

    tony G

    Interesting chart, but in only shows fertility rates below 2.3 for a subset of nations.

    The world average may be higher as different nations need different weights in the average.

    Anyway UN papers seem to project population increase until 2050.

    So your chart shows that world fertility rates are not below 2.3 per 1000.

    I would have thought the conflict between your conclusion and the UN finding would have rung alarm bells.

    The missing element is the various weightings by GDP.

    Excluding nations with pop < 5 million (to exclude outliers) may be appropriate, but I would want to look at them and see how many.

  45. Tony G
    February 25th, 2009 at 11:03 | #45


    Regardless of what the actual figures are now;

    As a countries per capita GDP increases its total fertility rate (TFR) declines below the Replacement Rate. So Capitalism is driving population decline not an increase as you alluded to.

  46. jquiggin
    February 25th, 2009 at 11:08 | #46

    Observa, we did all this last year, and the choice of comparator turned out to be critical. It’s fair to say, as your comparison suggests, that you can do better buying a small conventional car like the Colt rather than a mid-size hybrid like the Prius and investing in alternative efficiency measures.

    But the really interesting question come with like-with-like comparisons such as conventional v hybrid Camry. If you feel like locating one, I’d be interested to read it.

  47. jquiggin
    February 25th, 2009 at 11:10 | #47

    Tony G, given that you are smarter than all the scientists in the world, it’s a pity to hide your light under a bushel. Why don’t you announce your true identity and I’ll alert the press.

  48. jquiggin
    February 25th, 2009 at 11:11 | #48

    Bruce L, the standard practice has been that permits expire at the end the period of issue (typically one or two years). The Garnaut Review had a fairly extensive discussion of banking and borrowing permits.

  49. David Irving (no relation)
    February 25th, 2009 at 12:07 | #49

    Dennis @ 37, that link’s so cute – a right-wing GetUp with links (not entirely disclosed) to the Institute for Public Affairs.

  50. Mark
    February 25th, 2009 at 12:16 | #50

    Thanks for a non-size-of-SA related response.
    The Federal Govt isn’t encouraging action in non-acreditted schemes (such as Virgin one). I haven’t found a quote, but I’m sure I remember Senator Wong saying they will make sure individuals can participate in (secondary) markets by purchasing carbon credits.
    If, for example, some money from carbon credit markets is passed to local governments to administer and certain enterprising local governments find ways through legislation to spend it on carbon credits (because that option offers the best e-CO2 reduction/$) then the money passes back to the Federal govt and the pool of carbon credits shrinks. If this happens with enough Federal money (and there might be lots of it around) then the price could respond unpredictably.

  51. observa
    February 25th, 2009 at 12:24 | #51

    You make the typical error of judgement that the Prius is a mid-size car while the Colt is a small car. I don’t because at 6’4″ the acid test for me is to sit in any offering first and then do the sums with those I’m comfortable in. Hence my observation about the back seat headroom in the Prius. They are both 1.5L cars(shopping trolleys in my book) for good reason, but here’s the critical occupancy dimensions, Colt first, Prius second. Length 3870/4445 Width 1680/1725 Height 1550/1490.

    Now the largest 575 mm difference in length is down to 2 reasons. Firstly the Prius has to accomodate a planetary reduction gearbox and electric motor/generator under the bonnet and Mitsi decided most punters would be happier with a tight htchback rather than a bigger boot. Given the extra front end requirements of any hybrid, I’m confident Mitsi could design a shorter car with the same legroom and boot as any similar hybrid. A difference of 45mm in width between the two is negigible, depending on body shape, door thickness, etc as is the 60mm increase in height of the Mitsi, albeit that can allow a more upright seating position, negating the need for more legroom length and given the continuation of that higher flatter roofline in the hatch, negate that headroom problem in the back seat I noticed. The overall combinations of width and height suggest little advantage for either re wind resistance. Basically if you say the Prius is mid sized then so is the Colt although they may both be biggish cars of the future.

    I take your point about comparisons for truly bigger family cars and wagons, that a hybrid will prove even better in stop start driving, the higher the mass of the vehicles, although we don’t know how big those battery packs will influence those sums in future. The clear marketing choice of a 1.5L Prius now(and others) suggests Toyota is nervous about the comparisons of bigger Camry hybrids/conventionals in future, given that massive headstart conventionals have over hybrids at present.

    ‘the standard practice has been that permits expire at the end the period of issue (typically one or two years).’

    Doesn’t that negate most of the theoretical benefit of cap and trade vis a vis straight carbon taxing and what’s to stop our light globe and shower head changing froggy going country shopping with his new permits, where they don’t expire or have long expiry terms?

    • jquiggin
      February 25th, 2009 at 12:34 | #52

      “the typical error of judgement”. So typical in fact that it is shared by Mitsubishi and Toyota themselves, not to mention lots of reference sources. Is there something about Austrianism and a conviction that everyone else in the world is wrong? And if so, which way does the correlation run?/

  52. Bruce Littleboy
    February 25th, 2009 at 13:12 | #53

    re 48

    Maybe your reply should be more widely reported, John! Why on earth are people getting upset about issuing too many permits if we can reduce them in a year or two to a better limit? Your posting undercuts all the concern about how an individual’s electricity conservation will have no effect on total emissions. Nothing is cast in granite at all!

    I assume that water entitlements to the Murray system don’t expire quickly (at all?), and that the situation is very different.

  53. Salient Green
    February 25th, 2009 at 13:15 | #54

    observa, you are supposed to add the power and torque of the electric motor to the engine figures.
    power 30kw+57kw =87kw total (colt 77kw)
    torque 350Nm+115Nm =465Nm total (colt 132Nm)

    The new Prius here, no plug in yet.

  54. observa
    February 25th, 2009 at 15:04 | #55

    Thanks for that link SG and yes I do appreciate electric motors have gobs of torque low down but bear in mind that disappears as the petrol motor takes over. Many owners thought the Prius a bit of a slug (no doubt price related) and as Carsguide point out some of that noticeable shortcoming has been addressed-

    ‘the new Prius has a bigger petrol engine than its predecessor (up from a 1.5-litre four-cylinder to a 1.8, the same size as the engine in a Corolla) but it also has a bigger electric motor and a more efficient battery pack.

    The torque, or pulling power, at low revs has deliberately been reduced to make the Prius accelerate more smoothly off the line. But engineers have increased the amount of torque mid-way through the rev range to better suit real-world driving conditions.

    The result is a one second reduction in the claimed 0 to 100km/h acceleration time, from 10.9 seconds to 9.9, about as ‘quick’ as a Camry.’

    New owners will however be the test guinea pigs for Toyota’s first ‘Atkinson Cycle’ engine and that could be a brave step into complexity more or less as described here-
    Personally I prefer to let others pioneer quantum leaps in complex technology as the run on and sudden acceleration of Toyota’s first foray into hybrids amply demonstrated.

    Same size car but perhaps Kev spoke to Mr Watanabe about that rear headroom problem as he was being chauffered about discussing the usual handouts-
    ‘Dimensionally, the new Prius has the same wheelbase as the current generation. Overall length is slightly increased by 0.6 inches, in part by moving the front cowl forward. Designers preserved the triangle form of the current model, but made alterations to the overall profile, pillar position and angle. The overall height of the Prius is the same, but the roof profile is altered by moving the top of the roof 3.9 inches to the rear. This emphasizes the wedge shape, and also allows for enhanced rear headroom and improved aerodynamics.’

    It’s easy to design an aeroplane wing that many of us bang our heads on for the sake of saving turbulence with a hatch and squeezing the last drop of economy, or simply make the wing longer.

    I see the new Atkinson cycle 1.8L plus hybrid, etc improves fuel efficiency by 8.7% from the earlier model’s 46mpg to 50mpg. Simply adjust those Colt plus solar to the grid figures accordingly, provided the new Prius owners don’t drive around in that new ‘Power Mode’ I suspect and they’ve shelled out extra for that solar roof aircon,LED lights and the like. That’s where those fuel economy figures will get a bit rubbery. No doubt Mitsi’s engineers could do likewise if opportunity cost is no object but perhaps Toyota are giving you all a whiff of what I already knew re that solar roof bit.

    My advice to Mitsi is to bring out a ‘Colt Zero’ model for intelligent prospective Prius owners. Same car (ok perhaps a longer boot) but for the price of a Prius you get the Colt and a solar to the grid system that negates the Prius footprint and you get to keep any of Kev’s cashback for the solar. Drive a ‘Colt Zero’ and stick it up those Prius posers folks! Most of them are sold to corporates and Govt by the way as you’d expect doing the sums.

  55. observa
    February 25th, 2009 at 22:24 | #56

    Speaking of eco cars I came across Subaru’s Stella plug-in electric which may be of interest here-
    Price seems to be the problem as usual, no doubt due to high development costs of new battery technology to get both range and battery longevity. That’s why Toyota are sticking to hybrid technology at present because only using the Li-ion batteries up to 40% of capacity means they can last the life of the car (Toyota reckon only 2 cabs changed batteries so far in Oz at 350,000k and 550,000k) Note the Stella needs a special charging station and only has an 80k range. Hope they’re not like mobile phone chargers or standardisation will be the big bugbear in the race to market. An important point to note with electric vs hybrid re GG emissions-

    “Despite no greenhouse emissions coming from its electric engine, Subaru says using Australia’s coal-fired electricity would produce about 125g of carbon dioxide for each kilometre travelled in the Stella – almost 20g more than a Toyota Prius hybrid car that uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine alongside its electric motor.”

    Hmmm… makes you wonder whether the Chevy Volt,etc will save US autoworkers livelihoods over the long haul. On those figures I’d be pretty nervous about staking my livelihood or hard earned on that.

  56. Tim Macknay
    February 26th, 2009 at 00:59 | #57

    I’d like to see the Mitsubishi Miev (pure electric) released in Australia. I had a look at one in Bali in December 07, but didn’t get a chance to test drive it, sadly.

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