Home > Environment, Oz Politics > The circuit breaker

The circuit breaker

January 27th, 2010

The Greens have proposed a carbon tax as an interim measure to begin cutting carbon emissions. Although there are strong reasons to favor an emissions trading scheme over a carbon tax in the long run, I think it’s time to look seriously at this option. Here a few points in no particular order.

* since the price of carbon is initially capped under the CPRS, it’s just like a carbon tax in the short run
* the way to dispel public fear of a new tax is to bring it in. Look at capital gains tax and GST, both the subjects of highly successful election scare campaigns (in 1980 and 1993 resp) and both now uncontroversial.
* the capture of the political right by delusionism is now irreversible, as can be seen from the embrace of the obviously loony Lord Monckton. There’s no chance, now or in the foreseeable future of a deal with these guys. In particular, the version of the CPRS negotiated with Turnbull and briefly supported by the majority of Coalition members is unsalvageable in every respect. There’s no way the deal can be modified enough to get Liberal support now, and on the other hand it’s too much of a dog’s breakfast to take to a double dissolution.
* The Greens will almost certainly regain the balance of power in the Senate after the next election. Much as the government dislikes it, they are going to have to rely primarily on deals with the Greens to get legislation through in future. They might as well start dealing now.

In general terms, the government lost control of the debate with the defeat of the Turnbull compromise ETS last year, and has done nothing to regain it. Turning up with the same discredited compromise in February makes no sense at all. This is a time for firm action, not more delay.

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  1. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    January 27th, 2010 at 21:16 | #1

    GST and CGT both entailed corresponding tax cuts in other areas. A carbon tax isn’t a bad circuit breaker but the revenue it raises ought to be allocated to tax cuts not handouts or subsidies.

  2. paul of albury
    January 27th, 2010 at 21:25 | #2

    Isn’t a carbon tax an attempt to capture an externality whose cost falls on the wider public? So allocating revenue generated from such a tax to carbon emissions abatement should make sense. While at the moment carbon emission is a free gift there’s no reason we should keep giving it and plenty of reasons to cease.

  3. Salient Green
    January 27th, 2010 at 21:26 | #3

    I am pretty much convinced that the govt wants only to delay. CPRS or carbon tax, either will hit voters pockets close to an election and the Rudd govt is committed to one thing only and that is to win the next election. Should they win the next election they may just grow some cajones to take some weak action early in their 2nd term.

    Both major parties are far too captured by the coal lobby to do anything effective about curbing ghg emissions.

  4. Hermit
    January 27th, 2010 at 21:36 | #4

    As I understand it if the ETS current legislation passes there will be a fixed charge of $10 per tonne of CO2 levied on large emitters from July 1, except where avoided by free permits and offsets. This is a floor price cap scheme not strictly a carbon tax which in theory doesn’t have exemptions and deductions. However everything is now on the table. Absent loopholes $10 per tCO2 or 1,000c per tonne or 1c per kg should add about 2.5c per litre to petrol and 1c per kilowatt hour to conventional black coal fired electricity, hardly financially ruinous. I’m not sure what tonnage of CO2 it would apply to but if it was 300 Mt the levy would raise $3 bn, a tidy sum.

    I favour a restricted give-back but even that is fraught with peril. It could cover the already budgeted insulation scheme or it could go on the black hole pun intended of carbon capture and storage. I believe wind and solar photovoltaic electrical are dead ends but solar water heating is OK, now extended to nonsolar heat pumps in an uncanny example of Orwellian doublespeak. I also favour natural gas conversions for heavy vehicles.

    I put it to Abbott, Brown and the independents that from July 1 we impose a $10 a tonne CO2 levy with no free permits or offsets. The revenue will go exclusively on green subsidies with a short term payback.

  5. Ernestine Gross
    January 27th, 2010 at 22:30 | #5

    The Greens’ proposal is not a bad start, IMHO. Not sure so whether the proposal to allocate 50% of the tax revenue to assist less developed countries is a good idea at present. Wouldn’t it be better to use the money to assist with the further development of renewable energy technologies and then donate the IP to less developed countries (or sell physical stuff at cost)? Perhaps this part of the proposal is a negotiation factor.

    Maybe you, JQ, and other readers are bored with my theoretical stuff but, given that I haven’t been asked to shut up, I’ll try once more. IMHO, there are two problems with a global cap and trade system. Firstly, the wealth distribution between countries is still too unequal and the wealth distribution within the so-called ‘rich’ countries has become more unequal (ie the divergence between the theoretical minimum wealth condition and observables looks to me to be too big). Second, the cap and trade system does not provide enough prices to bring about changes in energy production technologies (the investment time horizon for new technologies is often, if not typically, longer than the cap and trade period agreement). Furthermore, as was pointed out by several commenters, this system is likely to result in a lot of trade in paper (financial contracts). Finally, there are other existing significant negative externalities and some potential new ones (eg nuclear power). Adding one market without completing it makes everybody potentially worse off. These were my reasons when commenting in favour of the tax system discussed on this blog quite some time ago.

    Lord Monckton – never heard of him until recently. He is also an unknown entity in my circle of friends. Initially I thought ‘Lord’ was his first name. Wrong. It turned out he won a noble prize at birth! If this world hadn’t become so serious and, in a sense, silly in some quaters, he would be called an eccentric (maybe not in Paul Keating’s language) but not a climate science skeptic.

  6. Donald Oats
    January 27th, 2010 at 22:48 | #6

    If Labor truly want to pass some kind of legislation that can actually reduce CO2e emissions then they must do a deal with the Greens. That may mean a carbon tax in the nea term, but that would depend upon the compromises needed in order to get the numbers from the Greens.

    I agree with Prof Q. that the Liberals as a party have crossed over into the abyss of delusionism when it comes to AGW (Tony Abbott might be able to spot that other Tony out there in the Deluniverse, blogging away). But we knew that awhile ago; just didn’t want to admit it. Good luck and more power to the Greens.

  7. Freelander
    January 27th, 2010 at 23:29 | #7

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Surprisingly, you make a comment that I agree with. None of the money should be waisted compensating industry. The tax money raised out to be used to relieve those on low incomes and others mainly through tax cuts. Some might also be used to reduce debt.

  8. January 28th, 2010 at 00:20 | #8

    I think both a carbon tax & an ETS miss a vital point, neither specifically target fossil fuels.

    For this reason I favour a Fee and Dividend system. The fee being collected at the mine, well head or port of entry (where the imports are from nations that don’t tax fossil fuels at source). The dividend being returned to the community as a flat lump sum. This give the community the option to invest in fossil fuel saving measures.

    This will be inflationary, but ultimately some inflation will be need to enable low energy production methods to win out over high energy ones.

  9. Freelander
    January 28th, 2010 at 01:53 | #9


    In principle, there is no need to target fossil fuels as it is the release of greenhouse gases that is targeted. Coal and oil can be used for purposes that do not involve the release of greenhouse gases and the greenhouse gases may be ‘captured’. However, in practice you may be right. It may very well be that what you are suggesting is more workable and less susceptible to clever people finding clever ways of avoiding the penalty but that is not so clear.

    Any of the approaches would have a one off impact on prices, and hence, would not be inflationary in the sense of having a persistent impact on inflation.

  10. rog
    January 28th, 2010 at 04:43 | #10

    As John notes the govt have well and truly lost the debate and continue to do so in spectacular style – their lack of engagement on the issue will cost them dearly.

  11. Rationalist
    January 28th, 2010 at 05:02 | #11

    At least the name is truthful about what it is, a big fat government tax grab to try to fill their deficit hole.

  12. gerard
    January 28th, 2010 at 06:43 | #12

    nice to see Tony Abbot’s bogan-targeted catchphrase about the “Great Big Tax” has already managed to fill the deficit hole in Rationalist’s head.

  13. Michael
    January 28th, 2010 at 08:09 | #13

    I agree with JQ that the CPRS is politically dead at the moment. The hopelessly compromised CPRS that was designed for a now nonexistant bi-partisan consensus and the government didn’t make much effort to sell it to the general public. This is the same strategy as the CGT and GST anyway.

    This solution has simplicity going for it especially if it was revenue neutral in someway, either through tax cuts to buy off the greedy and selfish upper middle class liberal heartland or subsidies for low income earners it would be an easy sell. Get rid of the free permits and it’s a winner.

    Any electorally palatable way of putting a price on carbon then it will be a step forward. I still believe that a market that deals with externalities is a better way to generate solutions than big government winner picking like nuclear. If solar and wind could compete on price with other methods of power generation with carbon priced why stop them?

  14. sHx
    January 28th, 2010 at 08:20 | #14

    With the credibility of climate science crumbling and the AGW scare losing momentum, there will be neither a CPRS nor a Carbon Tax in the foreseeable future. Most Green commenters, including John Quiggin, underestimate the impact of Climategate on the credibility of climate modelings. Calling the doubters “delusionists” won’t win you any more fans either as there is currently a clear shift towards global warming skepticism.

    Unless and until fresh and more reliable data and science show continuing global warming, and point at CO2 as the cause, there will not be any further serious action on the part of the government (Labor or Liberal) to curb burning of fossil fuels.

  15. nanks
    January 28th, 2010 at 08:38 | #15

    nice try sHx

  16. Salient Green
    January 28th, 2010 at 08:58 | #16

    sHx, When the world says, “Give up,”
    Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”

    and this, In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments. ~Friedrich Nietzsche,

  17. Ernestine Gross
    January 28th, 2010 at 09:03 | #17


    New word: ‘Climategate’. I understand some eccentrics have come up with the idea of building a fence in the atmosphere to keep ‘bad climate’ out and ‘good climate’ in. Nothing wrong with creating a script for a movie.

  18. Salient Green
    January 28th, 2010 at 09:03 | #18

    Another one for sHx, When hope is hungry, everything feeds it. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

    Hope is independent of the apparatus of logic. ~Norman Cousins

    There’s a whole page just for people like you. http://www.quotegarden.com/hope.html

  19. Austin
    January 28th, 2010 at 09:33 | #19

    I find it highly unlikely that the Labor government will support anything coming from the Greens. By taking on a scheme such as this would be implicitly painting them as credible, something Labor cannot do. I have never seen anything constructive in the ALP approach to this issue. However, rhetoric does seem to work wonders of most of the Australian population which appears to be their “low cost” alternative.

  20. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2010 at 09:34 | #20

    I think John Quiggin is right – the ALP needs to start dealing with the Greens now.

    If the ALP thinks it can push its policy unilaterally, then it needs to go down the joint sitting path (ie double dissolution).

    Due to our electoral system, this will increase the representation of minor parties in the Senate from the States (because 12 senators will be vacant).

    While a subsequent joint sitting could pass the ALP scheme, (due to the numerical domination of the HoR) it complicates ongoing government and future legislation due to the new senate.

    Plus there is expense and distruption with a double dissolution.

    the ALP simply must deal with the Greens, and the Greens have to deal with the ALP and not pose as wacky uncompromising Trots or a blackmailing rightwinger like Harradine.

  21. Freelander
    January 28th, 2010 at 09:51 | #21


    Interesting logic as usual.

    Now the climate hoax was created decades earlier in anticipation of the need for a stimulus package and the consequent need to raise revenue to pay off the debt through a disguised big fat tax.

    Very spooky… Wait, just about to check for Reds under my bed. Most risible.

  22. Freelander
    January 28th, 2010 at 09:53 | #22


    “Unless and until fresh and more reliable data …”

    I am afraid the data will never be ‘fresh’ enough or ‘reliable’ enough for your purposes.

  23. January 28th, 2010 at 10:20 | #23

    Got it in one. No evidence will suffice for some of these people.

  24. Donald Oats
    January 28th, 2010 at 10:29 | #24

    @sHx ,

    The field data tells a solid story of climate change and technological man’s part in it. The personal views of a few scientists towards some crap papers and some serial pests is quite sad to see but it isn’t a blight on all of the scientists’ work.

    Science in the trenches is always messy: strong personalities are usually involved at the forefront of any field. Indeed, this is often because of strong competition, either to beat another team to a significant result in the field (eg Crick and Watson diminishing Franklin’s contribution along the way, and their striving to copy and beat Pauling in the race to determine the correct structural model of DNA), or to oppose and beat someone else’s theory, in contrast to their own. While the personal level may involve intemperate language and the like, when it gets down to the science itself the professional integrity of the scientists comes out in the way that they argue their case rationally, and from the accepted facts – it isn’t arbitrary, as they must convince their peers and answer to their criticisms.

    The media representation of science to the public is a cartoon version, one that is adeptly exploited by some of the denialist crowd to diminish climate science, and by extension, science as a whole. This is rather unfortunate. It doesn’t change the science or the reality one jot.

    Before anyone mentions the glaciers and the 2035 date, I’ll point out the generally overlooked points:
    1) The original source actually stated 2350;
    2) The Indian government website stated 2035;
    3) From there it went viral as 2035, it seems;
    4) When it eventually wound up in the IPCC report, at least one editor objected to it in Draft 2 – Deltoid aka Tim Lambert has the details on his blogsite;
    5) The IPCC editors violated their own rules on citation in that they did not trace the claim of 2035 back to the original, peer reviewed, source. The IPCC committee deserve being crucified over this loss of control in the review process, as it was a simple transcription error in the date that started this whole thing in the first place.

    But, it still does not change the scientific results one jot.

  25. Nick R
    January 28th, 2010 at 10:46 | #25

    I find it amusing the way that denialists see AGW as a popularity contest. If the majority of people get together and decide that it is not happening, then democracy rules! No AGW! If only the totalitarian planet would listen…

  26. January 28th, 2010 at 11:07 | #26

    Right on!

    Despite what the monomedia say about voting for the minor parties, voting for the Liberals/Nationals and ALP just proves to the ruling classes that you’re an idiot.

  27. January 28th, 2010 at 11:14 | #27


    I do think we need to target fossil fuels, they are the root source of the extra carbon in the carbon cycle. The atmosphere, oceans, soils and biomass are so interlinked, it’s nonsense not to think of them as one, as the biosphere or the carbon cycle. The atmosphere CO2 level is just one measure of the state of the whole system.

    Global warning is only one reason to move away from fossil fuels. There are others, they fall into three groups: population pressure, resource depletion and habit destruction.

    Over the last 250 years we have used fossil fuel to both greatly increase population and to increase the effect that each individual can have.

    Fossil fuels are not renewable. They are resources that will be depleted by their very nature. That mean that ultimately there will be a peak production, followed by a population crash with lots of collateral damage to other systems/the environment on the way down.

    In a race with resource depletion, we have habit destruction. In addition to global warming there are things like ocean acidification and deforestation (try clearing large swaths of forest without a bulldozers, chainsaws and lots of cheap diesel). There are lots of other localised examples of habit destruction that are also only feasible with cheap energy, the Three Gorges Dam (plentifulness cheap concrete) springs to mind.

    We’re going to have to find a lot of low energy (and likely high labour) ways to feed, cloth, shelter and fore fill ourselves. We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and develop new production systems while the biosphere normalise itself. I think fossil fuel specific Fee & Dividend system is the best way to wean ourselves.

    A lot of our current efforts are misdirected. Take for example the current ‘Go Veg’ campaign, which I think is just wasting people attention/efforts for reason I’ve outlined here.

  28. Michael
    January 28th, 2010 at 11:19 | #28

    @Nick R
    The planet is just another conspirator in the great socialist scam to stop the developing countries from achieving a western standard of living. George Soros, Al Gore, probably the British Royal Family, the banks and the laws of physics are in on it. Only the Freedom loving lone wolfs, the La Rouchites and the League of Rights can see it for what it is.

  29. Nick R
    January 28th, 2010 at 11:20 | #29

    Too true Michael :)

  30. Nick R
    January 28th, 2010 at 11:25 | #30

    Can’t trust those sneaky laws of physics

  31. nanks
    January 28th, 2010 at 11:33 | #31

    Michael :
    @Nick R
    The planet is just another conspirator in the great socialist scam to stop the developing countries from achieving a western standard of living. George Soros, Al Gore, probably the British Royal Family, the banks and the laws of physics are in on it. Only the Freedom loving lone wolfs, the La Rouchites and the League of Rights can see it for what it is.

    where’s the Illuminati in all this?

  32. Michael
    January 28th, 2010 at 11:41 | #32

    where’s the Illuminati in all this?

    Not sure, but I’d wager it’s in there somewhere. Has anyone compiled figures correlating chardonnay drinking with funding received for cooking up the climate data? Where is Andrew Bolt on this important issue?

  33. Michael
    January 28th, 2010 at 11:46 | #33

    There is a lot of simplistic and misdirected action being taken or proposed. Aren’t well designed markets supposed to handle this kind of complexity (at least in theory)? I still haven’t given up the idea of a well designed ETS (not the CPRS however).

  34. Andrew
    January 28th, 2010 at 12:01 | #34


    Gnoll – so I take if from your comments that if somebody invented an unlimited clean energy source then that would be a bad thing? For you – it’s not about CO2 emissions and climate change, it’s that humans are now overrunning the planet due to technological progress?

    I guess that, in a nutshell, is what feeds a lot of the ‘delusionists’…. they are concerned that a lot of people are using climate change concerns as a cover for broader social/ideological objectives.

    Back on thread: JQ – I can’t see the ALP doing a deal with the Greens, it would significantly damage their chance of being relected. The vast majority of Australians see the Greens as the loony left. If the ALP does a deal with the loony left then it damages the ALP’s mainstream credibility.

  35. derrida derider
    January 28th, 2010 at 12:27 | #35

    where’s the Illuminati in all this?

    Oh, they’re far too clever to be caught; that you can’t see them in it is clear evidence that they’re co-ordinating the whole show. And only a fool denies such clear evidence.

  36. Nick R
    January 28th, 2010 at 12:31 | #36

    Yup the absence of evidence is like a smoking gun.

  37. January 28th, 2010 at 12:36 | #37

    Markets have their place, but this isn’t a ‘natural’ market, like say food. It’s definition is highly abstract. These designs so far aim at carbon generally, not fossil fuels specifically.

    The problem at it’s most basic level in the burning fossil fuels creates a large flow of geologic carbon into the biosphere. A flow that is minute other wise.

    Winston Churchill said:

    “It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

    I don’t see a well drafted ETS or even a carbon tax doing what is necessary.

  38. January 28th, 2010 at 12:51 | #38

    It’s a bad thing if it’s cheap and we keep using it to exploit the planet as we see fit.

    A cheap clean renewable power source still allows population increase & the associated habitat destruction that entails. Global warming & ocean acidification go way, but deforestation & localised habitat destruction would still happen.

    It’s a natural thing, all organisms will exploit whatever resources it can get its ‘hands’ on.

    Can our angels overcome our demons?

  39. January 28th, 2010 at 13:04 | #39

    Actually I should say some climate change goes way. Deforestation in its own right is a massive driver on regional drying. Eastern Australia’s water issues may be just as much a result of deforestation and hard hoof grazing. But I can’t find a control to compare it with! :P

  40. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    January 28th, 2010 at 13:18 | #40

    Michael – I was surprised to learn that the liberal heartland is not merely greedy but greedy and selfish. Shocking. No doubt they eat babies also. Luckily people who vote for the ALP and the Greens are genereous and selfless souls who work hard and share everything they own.


  41. January 28th, 2010 at 13:32 | #41

    There are several very good things about the Greens’ interim carbon tax proposal.

    Firstly, it can take us past the deadlock, and Australia can finally have a comprehensive carbon pricing policy.

    Secondly, as PrQ says, “the way to dispel public fear of a new tax is to bring it in”. In the current political climate, it is impossible for the government to make sensible decisions, about targets and scheme caps. By introducing a carbon tax first, the uncertainty is reduced.

    Thirdly, the finance for developing countries (approx 10% of the money raised) will help make a global deal possible.

    Fourthly, it we can break the deadlock here with this proposal, there may be a chance that it can be done in the US as well.

  42. Michael
    January 28th, 2010 at 13:39 | #42

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    At this stage if you are in the upper middle class and your main concern is tax cuts then in my book you are greedy and selfish. Since Abbott has chosen to side with denialists I regard his stance as irresponsible. The baby eating comment is just stupid. Your comments aren’t any fairer than mine. I didn’t say that the liberal heartland doesn’t “work hard”. Are you saying that Greens and ALP voters don’t?

  43. Chris Warren
    January 28th, 2010 at 13:42 | #43


    Typical right-wing fantasy and fabrication:-

    The vast majority of Australians see the Greens as the loony left.

    Seems this Andrew fellow is a bit of a Tory nutter.

  44. Michael
    January 28th, 2010 at 13:46 | #44

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    I should have added that Abbott’s slogan has been that the CPRS is a “Great Big New Tax”. He disingenuously wants to have a bet each way. Lets reduce carbon dioxide without making carbon pollution more expensive. Who is he targeting with this?

  45. nanks
    January 28th, 2010 at 13:52 | #45

    TerjeP (say tay-a) :
    No doubt they eat babies also.

    have you got a link to that TerjeP?

  46. Ernestine Gross
    January 28th, 2010 at 13:52 | #46

    @Ernestine Gross

    Correction: Peter Wood’s post led me to re-read the linked reference in JQ’s post. The Greens’ proposal is to use approximately 10% of revenue for developing countries and not 50% as I stated by mistake.

  47. January 28th, 2010 at 14:40 | #47

    “the way to dispel public fear of a new tax is to bring it in. Look at capital gains tax and GST, both the subjects of highly successful election scare campaigns (in 1980 and 1993 resp) and both now uncontroversial.”

    That’s a misreading. They are only uncontroversial in the sense that we are stuck with them so there’s no point arguing; they have been taken off the agenda (explicitly, in the case of the GST and the Henry Tax Reform‘s remit). Many of the fears about those taxes really have come to pass or are in progress. Just bringing taxes in doesn’t dispel fear, it overrides it. It’s a “we have heard no complaints” thing.

    “…the version of the CPRS negotiated with Turnbull and briefly supported by the majority of Coalition members…”.

    Er… it was never supported by the majority of Coalition members, Turnbull just claimed he had assessed the sense of the party room that that was so – but others present denied he had done so accurately.

    For what it’s worth, I shared many of Ernestine Gross’s reservations about emissions trading from the beginning.

  48. John Foster
    January 28th, 2010 at 14:50 | #48

    The trouble is that the carbon tax proposed by the Greens would have no effect on carbon dioxide emissions. Our modelling indicates strongly that a tax at this low level will have no effect upon coal-fired generation and, given the relatively low price elasticity of demand for electricity at the retail level (probably because electricity has been so cheap in Australia), the demand side effect would be negligible and difficult to spot given the srong secular growth in demand. The coal fired generators don’t begin to switch off power stations until carbon is at about $70 a ton. But the trouble then is that there has to be enough low carbon generation capacity available to meet the shortage in supply if consumers remain reluctant to cut back. What we really need right now are very large subsidies to encourage the rapid provision of low carbon emitting generation to fix the supply side. It is clear that the private sector cannot do this for perfectly understandable reasons. Using royalties received from coal miners would seem to be the ideal source of such subsidies.

  49. Ken
    January 28th, 2010 at 14:56 | #49

    “This is a time for firm action, not more delay.” Yes, but Labor isn’t that committed on this issue and would much rather negotiate with the LibNats to make weaker policy than negotiate with the Greens to make it stronger. That the Greens proposal makes a lot of sense only makes it worse but it’s easier to keep on delaying and pretending it’s the recalcitrance of the Right that’s stopping effective action; it keeps their own entrenched denialism from breaking out and doing to them worse than it’s done to the Liberals. The last thing Labor appears to want is Greens support plus a few genuinely concerned Libs crossing the floor.

    Actually, any carbon tax should include the carbon imbedded in imports and definitely needs to be added to the price of fossil fuel exports. Given Australia exports more greenhouse production via coal and gas exports than it produces locally, exports shouldn’t be excluded. But I’m not holding my breath.

  50. Fran Barlow
    January 28th, 2010 at 15:21 | #50


    The problem of not seeing a well drafted ETS is that at the moment, none exists. We need to draft one.

    As a purely interim measure, I see a carbon tax as something we could look at … but it would have to be about $40 per tonne with the clear promise of incrementing to $100 per tonne within say, 5 years and then incrementing by about 3% per annum. It would apply to everything — no exemptions.

    While that was in force the government could devise an ETS which would set the baseline for permits at whatever the market set based on reaching 25% below 1990 by 2020. Once the scheme was in force, industries could opt out of the tax by joining the ETS.

    An escalating schedule of tax payments and an accompanying ETS running in parallel, would allow industries certainty and they could choose whichever method suited them better. I suspect by 2020 most industries would have switched to the ETS since this would allow them to be rewarded for offsets, purchase permits offshore in approved schemes and so forth.

    When this was bedded down I’d favour removing the MRETs since they would be superfluous.

    On the broader issue, I certainly reject the notion that the Greens are seen as the “loony left”. Even those who give the ALP their first preference tend to acknowledge that the Greens have a serious message and are worthwhile. The ALP should negotiate with them in good faith — had they done so seriously, it’s conceivable that Humpreys and Troeth could have been brought over along with Xenophon, and at worst the ALP would have a clear point of difference with the Libs.

  51. January 28th, 2010 at 16:25 | #51

    @Fran Barlow
    As tax measures, an ETS (well drafted or not) or a carbon tax can raises funds to do things. That can be useful.

    Neither are part of Churchill’s “necessary”, they don’t focus on fossil fuels. Neither would effect actual GHG levels and thus the climate. It’s the ‘waiting for China’ problem.

    My favoured Fee & Dividend, if only implemented in Australia wouldn’t effect GHG level or the climate either. It only helps in local restructuring at best. All these measures start to drive down the standard of living (as opposed to the quality of life). No government that’s isn’t a North Korean style dictatorship can go it alone and expect to survive. I recognise fence sitting when I see it! That what we’ll get for years to come. Don’t see any real action until China and India starts getting uncomfortably hot.

    Ultimately we are still playing the ‘waiting for China’ game. Copenhagen end game shows that China, India, Brazil & South Africa are still willing to destroy to get their way. The only surprises I got from Copenhagen was that South Africa was in the final hold outs and Russia wasn’t.

    Yes, I would take a clean renewable energy solution, regardless of cost. It removes ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ for the equation. A nation/state/city can fix it’s problems, reap the benefits and not be undone to China mining 2.5+ billion tonnes of coal a year. A whole magnitude of complexity disappears for the problem.

  52. January 28th, 2010 at 16:33 | #52

    I’ll just quickly point out that the Greens are such filthy commie lefties that they want their comrades at the filthy pinko commie Productivity Commission to look over industry compensation rates! Next they’ll be trying to resurrect Lenin. It’s a natural progression I tells ya. Smashing Capitalism one Productivity Commission review at a time…

  53. rog
    January 28th, 2010 at 17:06 | #53

    As Terge noted above probably the only way out of the political impasse would be to offset an emissions tax with tax cuts.

  54. Salient Green
    January 28th, 2010 at 17:12 | #54

    I believe this proposal by the Greens is intended to give some certainty to renewable energy investors rather than effectively reduce emissions. The exact words are “If we can get broad, cross-party support for this proposal it will show both investors and global negotiators that Australia is serious about tackling the climate crisis.”

    I don’t think anyone expected any “… broad, cross-party support…” even though it would be the best outcome as a start, but the proposal certainly shines a spotlight on the Labor government’s climate change failures.

  55. John Foster
    January 28th, 2010 at 17:16 | #55

    I found this on a BBC site – A brief history of climate change(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8285247.stm):

    “1989 – UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – possessor of a chemistry degree – warns in a speech to the UN that “We are seeing a vast increase in the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere… The result is that change in future is likely to be more fundamental and more widespread than anything we have known hitherto.” She calls for a global treaty on climate change.”

    Many Liberal sceptics and denialists are great admirers of the ‘Iron Lady’ so I’m surprised to find them so opposed to her view, particularly when she could claim to have some expertise in the field in question. I suppose that it just goes to show that it’s really all about vested interests at the end of the day.

  56. January 28th, 2010 at 17:20 | #56

    @John Foster
    They tend to rationalise it away – “She was only spruiking for nuclear”, “She wouldn’t like where it’s gone”, “She didn’t know Al Gore would be fat”, etc.

  57. carbonsink
    January 28th, 2010 at 19:02 | #57

    How about we tax carbon at $20/tonne and repay the proceeds every quarter, split equally between all citizens?

    Its simple. Its progressive. It compensates the poor, the old and the unemployed.

    James Hansen is a smart cookie.

  58. iain
    January 28th, 2010 at 19:38 | #58

    Negotiating with the Greens, over the short term, only gets legislation through if 2 out of Troeth, Joyce, and X were reasonably ameniable to the carbon tax.

    Spash highlights the main concerns with cap and trade:

    “A key weakness of an ETS compared to alternative policies—taxes or direct regulation—is that an excessive baseline or regulatory loophole in any one nation or sector eliminates the need for genuine reductions elsewhere. The more complex the scheme and the greater its scope, the greater the potential for a weak link. National carbon markets allow poorly regulated sectors to gain, just as international carbon markets are susceptible to rewarding countries with lax regulations and poor enforcement.”

    Probably my main concern as well, but the international argument equally applies to carbon taxes. I am assuming that carbon tarrifs would be the proposed “solution” here (for either option)?

    “the major difference from a tax is that the revenue stream need not go to government, depending upon how the scheme is established and run. For example, if the government gives all existing polluters permits for free then the public purse gains no revenue; instead polluters can sell the permits on the open market and so avail themselves of a windfall. This adds an incentive for polluting parties to form lobby groups in order to influence policy design to avail themselves of such gains.”

    Probably the key criticism of “ETS better than tax”. Presumably the answer is that you design the ETS to avoid freepermitting as far as practical. But if you manage to achieve this in your ETS proposal – would it then be the more or less politically palatable? I don’t know.

  59. sHx
    January 28th, 2010 at 20:54 | #59

    @Donald Oats

    Donald, mate, thank you for your reply. Rest assured I am not under the spell of a few so called denialist scientists. I’ve never considered AGW to be a hoax, a leftist conspiracy or some loony scheme. I do believe that the AGW theory proponents are honest in their claims though I suspect they may be victims of group-think.

    When I first dipped my toe into the climate change debate I never expected to find myself firmly on the sceptics’ side. After all, I have been a Greens voter for the last ten years. I stood before polling booths handing out how-to-vote slips for Green candidates in three elections. I was a party member for two years. All those times I ignored the merits of the AGW science and simply followed the party line.

    But when I finally decided to look into the debate in more detail I was completely underwhelmed by pro-AGW arguments. The science was unsatisfying considering the price -in policy responses- it sought to extract. I found the much-louded scientific consensus meaningless. There was scientific consensus on geocentric model of the universe for nearly two thousand years. The pro-AGW debaters, I found them dogmatic, belittlling, jeering, sneering and repulsive. Even the likes of Richard Lindzen, who, according to NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, agrees with 90% of the climate science, and Roger Pielke Sr, who in my view is pro-AGW, are being pilloried because they do not agree with the prevailing climate dogma precisely. And I am absolutely sick and tired of the AGW dominating the Green agenda.

    Coming back to my original point, yes, I think both the Carbon Tax and the CPRS will fail in the foreseeable future. Check the archives of John Quiggin’s blog for a moment. You’ll see that back in late November JQ was trumpeting how Kevin Rudd destroyed one Liberal leader after another. Yet, perhaps the most dangerous Liberal to Rudd’s CPRS bill and re-election prospects, Tony Abbott, won the day. At the time JQ was sneering at Abbott as ‘delusionist’ and ‘vorticist’.

    Today, as far as the AGW politics are concerned, Tony Abbott looks stronger than Kevin Rudd. And no-one should delude themselves thinking the Labor party MPs, apparatchik and voters are strongly behind the CPRS, the Carbon Tax, or even the basics of the AGW science. Labor Party discipline prevents MPs breaking ranks, but in my view the AGW stress that cause some havoc in the Liberals also exist in Labor ranks.

    So my advice to comrades is that they stop deluding themselves with regard to the Carbon Tax, the CPRS or similar schemes, lest they find themselves as the real ‘delusionists’.

  60. January 28th, 2010 at 21:30 | #60

    “There was scientific consensus on geocentric model of the universe for nearly two thousand years.”

    I don’t mean to detract from your substantive points, but this kind of statement, common among those who want to dismiss or deny the consensus, is very wrong. It presumes you can compare modern scientific consensus with the patently non-scientific consensus of times long past. Geocentricism was essentially a philosophical position. Once natural philosophy started being actual science* by gradually adopting the scientific method (ie, neutral observation -> hypothesis -> prediction -> experimentation -> falsification or validation), then geocentricism quickly became untenable.

    * – I don’t include the mathematical advances made since antiquity, which include a lot of astronomy, because that was largely about effects or facts rather than causes. Also, mere empirical observation is not sufficient to qualify as science, it’s just one step.

  61. Michael
    January 28th, 2010 at 21:32 | #61

    sHx :
    When I first dipped my toe into the climate change debate I never expected to find myself firmly on the sceptics’ side. After all, I have been a Greens voter for the last ten years. I stood before polling booths handing out how-to-vote slips for Green candidates in three elections. I was a party member for two years. All those times I ignored the merits of the AGW science and simply followed the party line.
    But when I finally decided to look into the debate in more detail I was completely underwhelmed by pro-AGW arguments.

    Thanks for sharing your personal journey. Funny how many times I have seen similar comments on other blogs. There must be an awful lot of ex-greens about. Perhaps you could also share some specifics regarding the scienctific arguments that “underwhelmed” you. Mostly you write about the politics which of course are important, but surely it doesn’t matter what the majority of the population thinks, the science is either accurate and plausible or it isn’t.

  62. January 28th, 2010 at 22:00 | #62

    James Hansen doesn’t support a general carbon tax. He speciality supports a fossil fuel specific Fee & dividend system.

    A fee-and-dividend system imposes a fee on the initial sale of a fossil fuel which is then redistributed to the public; the rising cost of carbon-intensive products would, it is hoped, encourage families to keep their carbon footprints low.

    James Hansen rails against cap-and-trade plan in open letter‘ from the Guardian’s environment blog on 12 Jan ’10

  63. John Coochey
    January 29th, 2010 at 06:31 | #63

    This all assumes ACC is actually an issue. I note that John Quiggin did a runner when he had the opportunity to debate Monckton and then later said how he would have won the fight not by playing the ball and responding to his very tight logic but by playing the man and trying to smear him. Kind of makes you wonder after Climate Gate why we are even bothering to debate the issues as key finding have been falsified. Who has read the HarryReadme file?

  64. nanks
    January 29th, 2010 at 06:34 | #64

    at least you are persistent John Coochey – perhaps you can put that on your CV

  65. Freelander
    January 29th, 2010 at 06:56 | #65

    @John Coochey

    You can also add that you are creative and vividly imaginative… Key finding indeed. Maybe adding “delusional”, although an accurate descriptor, is best omitted.

  66. Freelander
    January 29th, 2010 at 06:59 | #66

    John Coochey :
    … not by playing the ball … but by playing the man

    When the man never has had the ball, what is one to do?

  67. January 29th, 2010 at 07:08 | #67

    @John Coochey
    I thought JQ was ‘uninvited’ from taking part in a panel discussion?

  68. carbonsink
    January 29th, 2010 at 07:18 | #68


    James Hansen doesn’t support a general carbon tax. He speciality supports a fossil fuel specific Fee & dividend system.

    I know. That’s why he’s a smart cookie.

    Wouldn’t it be funny if a non-economist came up with the best way to price carbon? I’d like to hear ProfQ’s thoughts on Hansen’s fee-and-dividend idea?

    Governments must place a uniform rising price on carbon, collected at the fossil fuel source – the mine or port of entry. The fee should be given to the public in toto, as a uniform dividend, payroll tax deduction or both. Such a tax is progressive – the dividend exceeds added energy costs for 60% of the public.

    Fee and dividend stimulates the economy, providing the public with the means to adjust lifestyles and energy infrastructure.

    If global emissions trading is DOA, how about we give something else a try?

  69. John Coochey
    January 29th, 2010 at 07:50 | #69

    Not according to his own statement on his own blog. You must excuse me I am off to book a ski trip to Hokkaido, best snow in forty years. Can anyone get the Readme file to work?

  70. Hermit
    January 29th, 2010 at 08:49 | #70

    I wonder if AGW will be back in fashion again if Europe and US have a scorching summer come June and July. It seems to me it is yet another form of cultural cringe whereby we are gobsmacked by a cold winter on the other side of the world yet we fail to notice our own record temperatures or drying rivers.

    In my opinion Rudd is untrustworthy. He milked the Kyoto signing for all its worth then did nothing. No he did worse than nothing because Australia is back shipping record amounts of coal and all those immigrants will need extra energy. As Fran points out China needs 2.5 billion tonnes a year of coal and Australia cannot physically make up the difference when China runs short. When that happens exports of iron ore and other commodities will also plummet so carbon dependence got us nowhere after all.

    I go back to a $10 a tonne CO2 levy will no freebies. Put it back into pay cuts and pensions if you like but I think a solar water heater on every roof would be better.

  71. jquiggin
    January 29th, 2010 at 08:58 | #71

    @John Coochey

    To quote from my own blog.

    Without advising me that my invitation had been withdrawn, the Institute made another invitation, to Barry Brook, who accepted. So, the decision has been made for me.

    But a selective incapacity to read is an essential element of the delusionist armory.

    SxH, assuming you’re sincere, you might look at John Coochey, or visit Andrew Bolt’s site, to take a couple of examples at random and ask who is dogmatic, sneering and dishonest here? Do you really feel comfortable getting your science from Lord Monckton?

  72. John Coochey
    January 29th, 2010 at 09:17 | #72

    Actually I must have been looking at your article in Crikey to wit

    Quiggin: Why I won’t debate Lord Monckton
    by John Quiggin
    So who has the selective memory now? Denialism is actually when you refuse to rebutt falsehood not when you ignore those which do not suit your religion.
    Or is that just another minor error like the glaciers or increase in storm? Or a key program which is useless? I am delighted to take people on in open forum providing I get a proper hearing, the weaker and the more presigious the better. You have many remaining opportunities to take him on if you dare but it is always easy to be brave when the danger is passed. I will hear him speak at the Press Club on 3. Incidentally Monckton always tells people not to believe him but check the facts for themselves, bit like th e himalayan glaciers, something the IPCC is obviously incapable of

  73. carbonsink
    January 29th, 2010 at 09:22 | #73


    I wonder if AGW will be back in fashion again if Europe and US have a scorching summer come June and July

    Did anyone else wonder why COP15 was held in the depths of a Danish winter, instead of (say) July in Cairo?

  74. January 29th, 2010 at 09:32 | #74

    It’s not about taxing carbon, it’s about fossil fuels specially. ETSs miss the point in that carbon is not all the same. The natural carbon cycle is vast, it’s the relativity small ongoing injection of geologic carbon that’s throwing the whole biosphere/carbon cycle out of whack.

    Back when the CPRS was being argured over in the press. A prosal was floated that becuase agriculture was too complex to figure out and that the ‘best approach’ was to simply include it by levying farmers on a per head (for livestock) or per acre (for crops) basis. Figures like $100/head for cattle were being banded about. That struck me as fundimentally ineffective as well as unfair, as it made no distinction between lot fed and grass fed cattle. It also had no way to take changes in farming method at the property level into account.

    As a thought exercise I compare how you should treat a car, a lot fed animal & a grass fed animal to try to figure out a better way to include them. That when I realise that an ETS on carbon generally wouldn’t just work poorly, it won’t work at all!

    Generally people will try to play with and bend the large natural flows of carbon to get the atmosphere CO2e figure down. Any thing but tackle the actual use of energy/fossil fuels & the problematic ‘new’ geologic carbon flows. Pushing carbon around in the biosphere is like pushing piss up hill. It ain’t going to stay where we put it long term.

    The easy, knee jerk reaction is to try to ‘win’ by diverting big natural flows, rather than stopping the small problematic ones. An ETS in quantitative, a Fee & dividend is qualitative. Here is on example of how being quantitative gets it wrong. The cheap ETS reaction is to plant trees, lots of them, in large cheap monoculture forests. The qualitative and resilient approach is mixed forestry in a mosaic with other systems. An ETS here works away from a sustainable lower energy farming ecosystem that better suits local conditions.

    @Andrew is going to say that I’ve got an agenda to fix other pet problems under the guise of fixing global warming. I see cause of global warming be an outcome of how we have powered our civilisation’s development over the last 250 years. Fix the problem and you change an underlying assumption of all part of our civilisations technical advancement. There is no global warning fix that isn’t going to drive change across the spectrum.

    Disclosure: I have family members involved in agriculture, including grass fed cattle production.

  75. January 29th, 2010 at 10:03 | #75

    The COPs are held in December. COP16 is Mexico City this December. COP17 will be in South Africa, that should be a ‘interesting’ one. COP18 is slated for Asia.

  76. Fran Barlow
    January 29th, 2010 at 10:47 | #76


    It’s not about taxing carbon, it’s about fossil fuels specially.

    Actually, it’s about restraining (by pricing) all significant and avoidable sources of anthropogenic emission without double dipping. Fossil fuels are obviously a significant input — the biggest single input but agriculture in its broadest sense along with other land use changes contribute a lot.

    I agree that a simple “per head” figure for cattle and other livestock would create anomalies. Given that one can attach cost to all agricultural energy inputs (such as fertiliser, pesticide, fuel, electricity etc … if these are fully internalised then all one really needs to do is to work out what, above and beyond that, a particular enterpise generates. Land clearing for example would be an obvious source of emissions above and beyond the energy needed to do it. Putting a value on vegetation on a carbon sequestration years basis would be a good idea. Where an enterprise could demonstrate the sequestration of a given amount of CO2-e for a given year it could qualify for permits to that value, which it could trade in the market. Potentially, a farmer on marginal land who managed to revegetate could earn money to be set against his/her other commitments.

    The cheap ETS reaction is to plant trees, lots of them, in large cheap monoculture forests. The qualitative and resilient approach is mixed forestry in a mosaic with other systems. An ETS here works away from a sustainable lower energy farming ecosystem that better suits local conditions.

    Not necessarily. To qualify, the vegetation mix should have to be comparable to the mix of local vegetation pre-land clearing. Bonuses could be paid by the government for various standards of biodiversity success, bearing in mind that it is not merely restraint of CO2 outflow that we want to achieve in environmental outcomes. More balanced biomes will probably contain NOx outflows better. Some allowance would have to be made for changing climate since, obviously, the biomes of 1788 may not be sustainable in 2010, given the changes in rainfall, temperature, river water supply etc.

    There are ways of keeping ag emissions down or even making a positive contribution even running livestock. The Grass Farmer movement in the US in which people such as Joel Salatin are active is a good example. Despite the fact that I am a vegetarian I wouldn’t much mind if most meat was sourced from such approaches to farming, and could well imagine that Mr Salatin’s operation might well be carbon negative, given that his family took ruined land and rehabilitated it, restoring much of its vegetation while making it commercially viable.

  77. jquiggin
    January 29th, 2010 at 11:19 | #77

    Coochey, I don’t pick headlines for Crikey. The article you cite has exactly the same passage, namely

    But before I had time to make up my mind I discovered the institute had also offered the gig to Professor Barry Brook, who had accepted.

    Obviously, you can’t or won’t read.

  78. carbonsink
    January 29th, 2010 at 11:21 | #78

    So how will fee-and-dividend discourage land clearing and encourage “mixed forestry in a mosaic with other systems” ?

  79. Alex
    January 29th, 2010 at 11:40 | #79

    lOL @sHx

    You my friend are a textbook example of a concern troll. You’re not going to fool anyone.

  80. John Coochey
    January 29th, 2010 at 12:54 | #80

    Well in that case you should have objected and demanded it be withdrawn but they did not generate that headline from a random data machine. Unless you consider them incompetent they summarised the message in your article which included

    There is, obviously, little to be achieved by debating lunatic conspiracy theorists, especially if they have plenty of practice and no scruples

    and again

    My instinct was to refuse and, as I discovered, the short notice for my offer reflected the fact that several others had already done so

    Why not discredit them when you can, if you can? Anyway I have made it easy for you I have paid your entrance to the Press Club address out of my own pocket. Just give your name at the door. I can see the headline now “Brilliant and incisive questioning demolishes denialist case. A brilliant economist from totally rebutted a leading englilsh denialist who had previously spokent to packed houses”

    Right next to the headline “In the most successfull wolf pack action since the Second World War all six Collins class submarines went into action against coal bulk carriers at anchor off Newcastle. President Rudd says he regetted the loss of life but merely refusing coal to the bulk carriers would merely leave them to destroy human life using coal from other sources”

    See you on the third

  81. jquiggin
    January 29th, 2010 at 13:05 | #81

    Coochey, you’re a serial liar, unwilling to correct yourself even when repeatedly proven wrong.

    Again, if there are any genuinely sceptical readers following this far, look at this guy’s performance. He
    (i) made an accusation,
    (ii) was challenged on it,
    (iii)referred to my blog as evidence,
    (iv) was proven wrong on that
    (v) claimed Crikey as evidence
    (vi)was proven wrong on that
    (vii)still didn’t retract
    Now look at the video of Plimer on Lateline, doing exactly the same thing, and ask yourself why I think there is no point engaging in debate with these guys, except to mock them.

  82. John Coochey
    January 29th, 2010 at 13:32 | #82

    I have not been proven wrong on anything but let us settle this once and for all. A contact of mine who is a very senior electronic journalist is planning a program on recent climate issues and intends to interview Monckton, Are you prepared to meet him head to head or not? Yes or no? Because I will take odds that you will get your arse kicked right royally. In the meantime why do you not do something usefull like rebutting point by point his open letter to Rudd? Without using the WWF as a “reputable source”

  83. Michael
    January 29th, 2010 at 13:36 | #83

    @John Coochey
    What specific evidence has Lord Monckton presented that remains to be refuted?

  84. Doug
    January 29th, 2010 at 13:47 | #84

    @ John Coochey ability to “win” a debate does not guarantee anything about the validity of the position upheld. Ckever rhetoric is capable of convincing people of the most outrageously incorrect positions.

    A “win” by Lord Monckton in such a debate would tell us nothing about whether he was scientifically correct. Rhetoric does not alter the laws of physics and chemistry and the planet will keep warming regardless of whatever ‘wins’ the aforementioned Lord or anyone else might chalk up in media events.

  85. John Coochey
    January 29th, 2010 at 13:49 | #85

    Well perhaps you can quote the data that refutes his open letter to Rudd, I do not have time to scuttle around a score of blogs to find them worthless but once again I would have thought such a “capital ship” would have been a juicy target. Once again if I have misinterpreted Quiggins rants as saying who did not want of face Monckton then so did his publisher hence the headline “Why I won’t debate Lord Monckton
    by John Quiggin” I have not seen any angst about the interview being cancelled and him not being allowed into the ring with his arch rival. I am still angry about incidents over a decade ago when I was refused the opportunity to take people on. Likewise when Andrew Leigh of the ANU closed his blog on gun control once it was shown his analysis was worthless unless you believe that the chances of being killed by a firearm is inversely proportion to the time since its destruction. Once again I cannot speak for my journalist contact as I do not know how he intends to handle it but the gauntlet is thrown down, pick it up if you dare

  86. Andrew Cunningham
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:04 | #86

    Poor John Quiggin. Why is it that everything he writes about “climate change” and “carbon taxes” automatically make me think of Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch.

    Oh, yes, the Norwegian Blue. What’s wrong with it?

    C: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. It’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it.

    S: No, no, it’s resting – look!

    C: Look, my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see one and I’m looking at one right now.

    S: No, he’s not dead, he’s resting. There! He moved!

    C: No, he didn’t. That was you pushing the cage.

    S: I didn’t.

    C: Yes, you did. Polly, Polly…… Polly, Polly, Polly. Wake up, Polly! Now, that’s what I call a dead parrot!

  87. Nick R
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:14 | #87

    Doug- I agree exactly. Political scientists say that winning a debate scores you no points whatsoever. In order to ‘win’ a debate you need to win the ‘post debate debate’ over who won. I have no doubt that JQ would win a debate with Monckton, but if the debate was held in front of a crowd of angry denialists he would surely lose the public debate about who was better, handing Monckton the real victory. It stinks, but that is the way it works.

  88. Donald Oats
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:15 | #88

    @John Coochey
    Rude. Very rude.

  89. John Coochey
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:21 | #89

    Actually I think the dead parrot is the wrong John Cleeves sketch. After Climate gate (we will destroy data rather than release it) Himalaygate (a chance telephone conversation ends up with the WWF) Tempest gate (actually we could not find any statistically significant data) and now it apears that the base temperature data is open to question because cold weather stations were excluded from later studies in both Russia and Canada. I am more reminded of Basil Fawlty facing the health inspector who has delivered him a copious list of errors, To which he replies “But apart from that all ship shape and Bristol fashion?” But seriously it looks like Doug a couple of comments agrees with Monckton and myself that there should be a Royal Commission with rights to examine data and cross examine witnesses under oath. In the meantime if anyone wants to invent a solar panel which produces electricity as cheap as conventional I would be happy to buy it. But untill then I have to go and stick the end back on my hockey stick, it seem to have fallen off, Once again I will take on false research in the fields I know such as DV and firearms control in any forum I am allowed access to because I know my arguments will win with an unbiased audience, I have seldom seem anyone run away from a fight unless they expect to lose and the way the media has changed recently with even Comrage Kevin dropping ACC or whatever we call it now, I think somebody is expecting to lose. Is someone saying that Quiggin does not have the presentational skills to best “an articulate fraud” (sic)

  90. Michael
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:22 | #90

    John Coochey :
    the gauntlet is thrown down, pick it up if you dare

    The gaunlet was thrown down ages ago at the foot of the various opponents of mitigating AGW to participate in the real scientific debate and publish something in a relevant peer reviewed journal. Who dares pick up that gauntlet? Lord Monckton, Plimer? These media debates aren’t useful because neither side is really able or required to fully answer questions and provide supporting evidence in these formats. If you genuinely want to further human understanding on this issue why would you choose this time limited format as your primary means of arguing the science?

  91. Fran Barlow
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:31 | #91

    As someone noted above, all the argy bargy in the world won’t make a scrap of difference to the quality of ecosystem services.

    Personally, I could scarcely care less whom the media deemed as having “won” some verbal exchange on the current anonaly and public policy. The fact remains that poor policy will author at best a series of disasters and perhaps a human catastrophe. Indeed, even good policy now may not avoid either of these.

    Giving some delusional nutbag like Monckton or Plimer the time of day seems a dreadful misuse of the emotional and intellectual energies of rational, intelligent and informed people, who really ought to be out there making sure we get policy right rather than doing media stunts.

  92. nanks
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:40 | #92

    @Fran Barlow
    it is beyond sad – I no longer read or take much notice of media re climate as it depresses me too much to see how many nasty idiots are thrilled to comment on topics about which they know little to nothing.

  93. Alex
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:40 | #93

    Listening to these people reminds me of the Gish Gallop.

    Funnilly enough, Plimer once debated Gish – from wikipedia

    Ian Plimer, head of the Geology department at the University of Newcastle, Australia, debated Gish in 1988. Plimer considered the debate to be political rather than scientific, and thus refused to argue genteelly about scientific minutiae. Instead, Plimer debated Gish in a street-fighting style which a Sydney Morning Herald reporter described as going in “boots and all, aiming for the opponents kneecaps”. “Professor Plimer mocked, ridiculed and challenged every tenet that the movement holds dear, and made a string of blunt personal accusations about some of its more prominent members

    Plimer has since become the new Gish! How ironic.

  94. wilful
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:45 | #94

    When the man never has had the ball, what is one to do?


  95. nanks
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:48 | #95

    here is alink about how to debate creationists http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/debating/globetrotters.html which translates beautifully to debating denialists

    at the end the author writes “…If after all of this, you still think you want to debate a creationist, then let me give you some suggestions. First, don’t bother defending evolution. Evolution is state of the art science, taught at every decent college and university in this country…”

    the same applies to debating a denialist

  96. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:48 | #96

    John Quiggin said “the way to dispell public fear of a new tax is to bring it in”. Presumable that is also the way to dispel the publics fear of a tax cut.

  97. wilful
    January 29th, 2010 at 14:58 | #97

    John Coochey, please provide one single simple Monckton ‘fact’ that goes any way towards questioning the science of the theory of cliamte change. Please make it a sciency one, not a political one.

    While John Quiggin isn’t a climate scientist and doesn’t have to respond to your absolute nonsense, I quite sure several willing sorts on this blog, who know far more than you or I on this issue, will readily demolish any substantive argument that Monckton has made.

    This is a really simple test for you, I’ve set the bar very low. Very easy to pass.

    (in fact, if you were clever enough, you could find some grey areas at the edge of the theory that are actively debated, but which don’t question the central tenets (but I don’t think you’ll even be skilful enough to target one of those ideas)).

  98. Chris Warren
    January 29th, 2010 at 15:25 | #98

    There is no point debating deniers. It just attracts more of them.

    Anyway here is the latest confirmation adding all then effects of missing data, incorrect predictions etc:

    Climate Confirmation

    Good useful reading.

  99. frankis
    January 29th, 2010 at 15:30 | #99

    Coochey must wonder why professional boxers don’t accept challenges from drunken loudmouths in pubs, why political leaders don’t (normally) get into the gutter to grapple with ill-informed detractors, and wonder why the majority of intelligent readers of blogs don’t respond to delusional commenters.

    Coochey here’s a newsflash for you. Monckton’s arguments are not even wrong, they’re merely delusional. He _is_ that drunk in the pub.

  100. Fran Barlow
    January 29th, 2010 at 15:46 | #100

    As they say, never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it …

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