Coal, cronyism and corruption

The latest issue of Coalwire, a weekly newsletter covering the transition away from coal list three separate corruption cases involving coal: in Indonesia, South Africa and Bangladesh. These aren’t isolated instances: in just about every jurisdiction that isn’t moving away from coal at a rapid rate, the industry is associated with cronyism at best, and outright corruption at worst.

In Australia, for example, the push to develop the Galilee Basin is being driven by a set of politically connected billionaires (or pseudo-billionaires on the Trump model). In China, the move away from coal is being obstructed by provincial governments eager to keep the construction gravy train rolling. In India, there’s Coalgate. Crony capitalist governments like those of Trump in the US, Erdogan in Turkey and Law and Justice in Poland are among the leaders in resisting decarbonization.

The explanation is simple. Coal can’t survive in an open market environment, particularly one with a carbon price, nor under a coherently planned system. It’s only under the toxic mixture of markets and intervention represented by ‘business friendly’ government that money can still be made from destroying the global environment.

41 thoughts on “Coal, cronyism and corruption

  1. JQ thanks as per usual. My words would just be superfluous.

    “The law is supposed to be about justice, no fairness. And I know that sometimes what is right and fair is not clear cut – it’s a bit iffy. But this is not iffy. I mean this is as clear as day. It is right and fair that a family be allowed to live in its own house.That is justice. I rest my case.”
    http://thecastlequotes.com/the-law-is-supposed-to-be-about-justice-no-fairness-and-i-know-that-sometimes-what-is-right-and-fair-is-not-clear-cut-its-a-bit-iffy-but-this-is-not-iffy-i-mean-this-is-as-clear-as-day-it-is/

  2. “Coal, cronyism and corruption” is merely a chapter in a larger narrative called “Capitalism, cronyism and corruption”.

    As Richard D. Wolff writes:

    “Evidence suggests that neither civic-minded ethics, nor regulations nor laws have come close to ending capitalists’ corruption. Countless government courts, commissions, etc., have hardly ended official complicities in that corruption. Mainstream economics mostly proceeds in its analyses and policy prescriptions as if rampant corruption did not exist. Mass media tend to treat capitalist corruption (at least in their home countries) as exceptional and government efforts to stop it as serious. These, too, are further examples of that “appropriate language” with which modern capitalist societies mask systemic corruption.

    To reduce corruption from its current high levels requires something more than, and different from, additional laws, commissions, invocations of morality, regulations and so on. It requires basic, structural economic change. Earlier reforms achieved so little success because they ignored the very idea or possibility of such change. They left untouched capitalism’s basic incentive structure and capitalists’ power to use enterprise profits for corrupt purposes. Capitalists have continued to face all the benefits and gains that corrupted officials can yield (plus the risks and costs of failing to corrupt them). Capitalists have likewise continued to amass ever-larger profits and thus the funds with which to corrupt.”

  3. I think that your obsession with closing down coal exports/production is misplaced. It won’t happen as they are our second most important export and there is abundant coal globally. But carbon pricing, yes, that’s of course a great idea – just design the carbon tax around the consumption of carbon not the production, Carmody style.

    All problems then vanish. Not futilely trying to end the world’s coal consumption, no competitiveness or carbon leakage issues and sending out good incentive signals to our trading partners.

  4. I think J.Q.’s “obsession” with closing down coal is well placed. It’s the worst cause of atmospheric CO2 pollution per unit energy produced and it is the most easily replaceable fossil fuel. If we wreck the climate, modern civilization collapses and billions of people die. A bit of economic pain to save billions, civilization and the world? It’s not a high price in those terms.

  5. But it won’t happen by focusing on shutting down local producers. Need to step back and concentrate on pricing in a way that will not inevitably be overthrown – attempts to price carbon in the past have been thrown out because coal is our second largest export & because of loss of competitiveness concerns. Even if you could stop these exports that would have a tiny impact on world coal consumption.

  6. @Iconoclast:

    “Coal, cronyism and corruption” is merely a chapter in a larger narrative called “Capitalism, cronyism and corruption”.

    The “Road to Cronyism” like the “Road to Serfdom” in a socialist world. I think they may be two sides to the same coin. Interesting listen for you:
    http://www.econtalk.org/michael-munger-on-crony-capitalism/

    @JQ:
    What can we do about this kind of cronyism given both left and right leaning voters hate it?

  7. hc,

    I have long argued for a straight out carbon tax. I argued against cap and trade or emission trading schemes because I predicted that that approach would fail, as indeed it has in Australia, Europe and elsewhere. An ETS properly implemented is still a price on carbon but it fails in practice because it can be comprehensively gamed and compliance is impossible to monitor. The neoliberal promoters of the ETS were always operating in bad faith. Their twin intentions were to avoid or delay a standard carbon tax and to create a system which could be gamed.

    A carbon tax is intended to shut down coal producers mid to long term. That’s the whole point. We can’t afford to burn all the world’s coal (and oil and gas) or we face a world 6 to 11 degrees C hotter and sea level rise of about 65 to 70 meters. In other words, extinction.

  8. sorry mate a carbon tax is only intended to recover social costs that were not in play when the product was priced i.e. the true market cost is now recovered in the price.

  9. HC – fixing the climate problem in ways that don’t affect Australian coal production? I am struggling to see how that can work. We are all shareholders in this mess, but the majority shareholders are the institutional ones.

    Blanket excluding of fossil fuel producers from responsibility for the externalised costs of their products doesn’t look like something that will work to drastically reduce global and domestic coal use. I think long standing legal principles – were any courts actually prepared to apply them – would make the producers and suppliers of coal liable for a burden of externalised costs that are estimated to be higher than coal’s current market price. (Social Cost of Carbon estimates vary a lot but average around US$40 per ton of CO2. Coal makes 2-2.8 tons of CO2 per ton burned, so, adds between US$80 to $110 to the cost of a ton of coal. Not that pigovian taxation need to be anything like that high to induce a strong market preference for low emissions alternatives.)

    If the burden for carbon pricing is imposed exclusively on coal users do we ban coal sales to those users that do not pay it domestically – or use the funds inappropriately? Or do we add it in to the sale price and send that money to a global climate fund? Who administers it? Will any major Australian coal producer or their cronies find those any more acceptable than any other way of ending the de-facto biggest energy subsidy of all – the perpetual amnesty on the externalised costs of their products? I don’t see why they would when they can induce Australian governments to oppose carbon pricing in any form and perpetuate continuing responsibility avoidance?

  10. Sorry mate, a carbon tax set high enough can seriously discourage the burning of fossil fuels and encourage the use of other energy sources. It does more than “recover social costs that were not in play when the product was priced”. Like all Pigovian taxes levied at a high enough rate, it will reduce consumption and encourage the search for alternatives; the latter happening when alternatives are necessary. The concept “recover social costs” is inadequate to describe the potential effects of a Pigovian tax. “Recover and/or prevent social costs and/or environmental costs” would be more adequate.

    The only point to any economic activity is the manipulation of real resources, real energies and real environments. Thus finally, the costs we should talk about should be real costs, not market costs (in notional tokens called money units). Market costs are always dependent on how ownership and the market(s) are structured. Market costs are never real. They are notional and estimated costs intended only to model real costs. Often these estimates are highly inaccurate in relation to real costs. Science is much better at calculating real costs. If markets are to continue as an important tool of choice for managing the economy then the science must be used (especially for negative externalities) to impute extra costs into market prices. Democracy, ethics (humanist and ecological) and science must lead, and market economics must take its proper place as a tool of fourth order importance (at best).

  11. Ken Fabian,

    Sadly, you are right. There is almost no hope of getting fossil fuels correctly priced in time to prevent a catastrophe. The forces arrayed against pricing negative externalities are too great. These forces include both capitalist and consumer (short-term) self-interest; in other words, the day to day actions of billions and people and the effects of the millions of machines run by them.

    Maybe the day that a major world city in the first or second world runs out of water, burns to the ground and goes under the waves will be the day something changes. Until then, the forces arrayed against real change and in favour of the “eternal” status quo are simply too great.

  12. Ikon, the ETS in Europe, California, the regional US, New Zealand and Quebec haven’t “failed”. They are all still in operation, and in general have been effective in reducing emissions while remaining reasonably economically efficient. Efforts to establish a carbon price in Australia failed, as you well know, not because of the features of the scheme but because of political resistance by the fossil fuel industry and its proxies. The Gillard-Brown scheme (which was a hybrid) was functioning as a carbon tax, not an ETS, at the time the Abbott government abolished it.

    The ETS that reman in operation form part of the matrix of policies to reduce emissions, although of themselves they are not enough, and nor are carbon taxes in jurisdictions that have those.

    You’ve made it plain enough over the years that you dislike ETS, and you’ve been honest enough to admit that your dislike stems from an ideological reflex rather than rational analysis. So why pretend otherwise? Australia, if it gets carbon pricing, is more likely to get an ETS than a carbon tax, thanks to Abbott’s successful campaign against the latter in 2013. Maybe certain types of carbon tax would be better than certain types of ETS, or not. But an ETS is a lot better than nothing. So why not get over it?

  13. Even without any sort of a price on carbon then is no chance of a new coal powered power station.

    with a price of carbon it is a dead parrot.

    The cost on new solar is the same as for old coal stations and it is still falling!
    It is far quicker, less costly to install a new solar farm.

    On very hot days a solar energy is the most reliable, coal most certainly is not.

  14. “with a price of carbon it is a dead parrot.”

    According to Angus Taylor, a new coal powered power station is just resting, to be awakened with government underwriting.

  15. A new coal powered station has costs twice that of old and that of new solar. They would need a public subsidy for its life of 50 years.
    There are no investors and no financiers for a reason

  16. Angus Taylor on Insiders made some ludicrous claims about emissions and is suffering the consequences.

    I can only think that the govt has been totally corrupted by the royalties that stream from coal.

  17. rog

    The federal government doesn’t get any coal royalties. On shore mineral resources belong to the states, so they get the royalties.

  18. Tim Macknay,

    My last reply to you was lost. I am not sure why. It was completely mild in tone and had just one innocuous link to a graph of the EU ETS carbon price. I will avoid links this time.

    A carbon price of 30 Euros per ton of emitted carbon is sometimes proposed as the minimum price needed to cover negative externality costs, By implication, I guess, this would have effectively helped to price out coal in a reasonable time span (from 2005 maybe). The EU ETS has never reached this price. In phase 1, it reached maybe 1/2 to 2/3 of that price but with considerable price instability. Then there was a long hiatus between about late 2011 and early 2018 when the price was quite low at about 1/3 of the required price estimate. This was the time-period of phase 2 perhaps. Since then, it has reached about 2/3 of the required price estimate. Also, what emissions were/are priced or not priced in each stage is an important issue. I don’t have that information to hand.

    This is quite a checkered history for a scheme which commenced in 2005. We can see that after a decade and a half, it has still not stabilized at an adequate price (if the price originally given above is a good guide). Given that the task was and is time critical, this is a real concern. On the other hand, I advocated taxes and these proved politically impossible in most jurisdictions under the current world economic system; “capitalism” to use a very broad term. Those who told me the tax route wasn’t feasible politically in the contemporary political economy landscape have been proven right by events.

    I also predicted that an ETS plus any other measures attempted under the aegis of market capitalism (not of a central planning or statist nature) would fail. Not quite sufficient time has elapsed to call this prediction yet, though some scientists suggest we will know (to a reasonable degree of certainty) whether or not we can stop dangerous global warming by as early as 2021. Thus, if adequate carbon taxes and other statist measures were not feasible politically and the ETS and other market-friendly, business-friendly measures will not work in practice (as appears to be the case to date) then our goose inevitably will be cooked.

    My ideological bias against free markets and capitalism is at least matched by the orthodox ideological bias of most people for free markets and capitalism. To claim one bias is ideological and the other, by implication, is not is to prejudge the entire issue. I guess we can all advance our rationales, reasons and asserted or developed “proofs” as to why we consider our particular bias to be founded to some degree in objective analysis. But that’s a long sandpit argument, of course.

  19. @Ikonoclast
    Yes, a discussion about ideological biases could certainly be a long one, if potentially interesting if one had the time. However, for the record, I characterised your view of ETS as an ideological reflex based on your own admission that your attitude was not rational – I think the words you used were that it makes you ‘see red’ – and for no other reason. But that’s enough thread derailing from me. I think we can all agree (even Harry) that further growth in coal production is hugely undesirable, whatever policy tools we prefer to use to deal with the situation.

  20. HC’s proposal for a carbon tax only paid by Indian and Chinese consumers takes the biscuit for chutzpah.

    Does it work even in his amoral calculus? Suppose a carbon tax or other price is coming. If it’s levied in India and China, the receipts go to Indian and Chinese taxpayers. If Australia levies the tax, Aussie taxpayers benefit. Better get ahead of the game. If there is a global movement towards carbon pricing, there will be a lot of incentive to create international arrangements to spread the burdens and benefits as with VAT. Sarkozy was IIRC the first leading politician to suggest border carbon levies. He won’t be the last.

  21. I won’t post a link. See “State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2018” by the World Bank Group. In that report it states:

    “To date, 51 carbon pricing initiatives have been implemented or are scheduled for implementation, as shown in Figure 1. This consists of 25 emissions trading systems (ETSs), mostly located in subnational jurisdictions, and 26 carbon taxes primarily implemented on a national level. These carbon pricing initiatives would cover 11 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) or about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as shown in Figure 2.”

    The low coverage level at about 20 percent of GHG emissions is a concern. Of course, carbon pricing, as ETS or Taxes is not the only approach happening. But overall, the patchy response and the slowness to act are the main takeaway messages of our response to climate change. It’s all been too little, too late. Australia has burned through the hottest summer it has ever seen since weather recording began. Matters are beginning to get grave.

  22. Smith

    Yes and the MRRT was repealed.

    Looking at State revenues, in NSW coal royalties are minuscule and the industry pays little to no company tax so it’s a mystery why some politicians are so supportive of coal.

  23. Ken Fabian and James (see Para 5),

    There will be an affect on Australian consumption of coal – it will be taxed but not on exports. This does sound terrible but the reality is we will not stop the exports and, even if we did, new sources of supply would emerge elsewhere. Hand-wringing is pointles – you want something that will work. The following is a longer post I used elsewhere to comment on an AFR editorial.

    Coal is Australia’s second largest export – over 10% of total exports. These will not end soon and the coal lobby is a politically powerful obstruction to taking measures to effectively address climate change. The suggestion by Geoff Carmody – one I have also long endorsed and written about – is to impose a destination-based carbon tax which exempts all coal exports but which taxes coal consumption locally as well as all other forms of carbon pollution locally. Imports of carbon-based products should be taxed at the border by means of border tax adjustments reflecting the excess of our carbon tax over those of exporting countries. This removes a significant first constraint on Australian actions to address climate change and costs little – criticizing the coal exports will not end them – they will continue anyway and even if you could, substitute production will enter the market from elsewhere in the world. Coal is an abundant resource – Australia alone cannot stop its use.

    The destination accounting proposal has recently been endorsed for the US by Janet Yellin, Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan but has long been rejected by the mafia who control climate policy discussions in Australia by wrong claims of lack of policy practicality: See the AFR editorial this week.
    The policy is simple to implement – the border taxes are WTO compliant and would be concentrated in a handful of industries. These adjustments would deal with the often-exaggerated concerns about carbon leakages and import competing industries being put at a competitive disadvantage because of carbon pricing. This gets rid of a second major constraint to introducing effective carbon pricing in Australia – the unfair competition argument. This no longer arises.

    In addition, this type of tax regime establishes the right types of incentives for other countries to levy production-based taxes. If they don’t levy carbon taxes we impose a tax on them ourselves and we keep the money. If they impose comprehensive carbon taxes they get to keep the money. Obviously this type of argument is of greater force for large countries such as the US and China but also for Australia too. James alleged criticism is – in fact a virtue

    Finally, the advantage of this type of proposal is that it gets Australian discussions on climate back to be where they should be. We omit a tiny part of global carbon emissions and restricting our emissions won’t make much difference to anything. Our focus should be on setting a good example, on playing a proportionate part in addressing climate and on developing pricing mechanisms that will be robust and which will help to foster international agreement on effective climate action.

    Most importantly we will not put ourselves in the silly position of trying to stop carbon pollution in the rest of the world by restricting our exports. We cannot do that because the substitution possibilities are too great.

    https://www.afr.com/opinion/editorials/its-simple-we-need-a-proper-price-on-carbon-20190225-h1bokt

  24. If history to date is any guide, we are not going to prevent climate change. We are not doing enough, in time. Instead we are consistently doing too little, too late. Is it too harsh for me to say HC’s plan above is an example of a reasonable argument for progressing to climate change? If I constrain myself to realistic arguments, I can come up with no better plan myself. Maybe we could ban new coal mines or new coal mines whose coal quality falls below a defined standard.

    What are the fundamental problems which, seemingly , make it impossible for us to deal with climate change in a timely manner? In summary they may be any or all of;

    (1) Faulty temporal discounting;
    (2) Overlooking inter-generational equity claims;
    (3) Failure to hold values outside economic values;
    (4) Economic and energy system momentum – the difficulty of restructuring everything.
    (5) Systemic features of capitalism itself;
    (6) Systemic features of nation-state competition (Offensive Realism).

    Personally, I think all these factors are at work.

  25. “the substitution possibilities are too great”

    Harry, you’ve mentioned this several times, but I don’t recall you providing any evidence.

    Australia is responsible for 36.6% of the world’s coal exports. If we phased out Australian coal exports over the next 10 years:

    1) Which countries will supply the extra 375 million tonnes of export coal per year?

    2) What would it do to the price of coal across the world?

  26. Australia has 5% of the world’s coal and currently produces 1/9th of the world’s coal.

    The price effects of the scenario you envisage (which will not occur) would be positive but really a very tough exercise to nail down.

  27. Nobody wants to be the first to change to save the world. Therefore, climate catastrophe is inevitable.

  28. Harry – “…the silly position of trying to stop carbon pollution in the rest of the world by restricting our exports” ?

    To me it sounds like the drug dealer’s defence – if we don’t sell it to them someone else will. Not convinced it passes any reasonable ethics test to maintain that the economic benefits of selling coal are so great whilst the biggest associated economic harms are deliberately excluded from calculations; especially when those are expected to exceed the sale price. By long standing legal principles a supplier/seller does bear responsibility for the harms of what they sell, so the perceived benefits from the coal industry are based on an enduring amnesty on accountability for climate costs – effectively benefits are sustained by institutionalised cheating. Without that cheating 100% RE dominated by solar and wind and batteries – even a great many very large scale and expensive batteries – looks cheap in comparison. Even high cost nuclear looks cheap in comparison – just not nearly as cheap as RE for the early to mid stages of a transition.

    Yes there is harm from too rapid transition – but that is balanced against continuation of the very rapid, unprecedented accumulation of climate ‘debt’, to be paid over decades and centuries in the form of multi-generational impacts and harms. No clever accounting tricks can void those debts. And what do we consider a serious economic harm? People who live lives of extravagant wastefulness – of wealth and luxury unparalleled in history – strenuously objecting to be a few percent less wasteful or being a few hundred dollar per year less prosperous are not, in my view, objecting to real and significant economic harm.

    The accumulating climate debts will be paid out of a non-replaceable stock of essential environmental capital – the climate stability our agriculture and infrastructure depends on. Yet the mainstream “Climate Movement” has been been consistent in supporting phased transitions and promoting support for those disadvantaged by it; coal miners and power plant workers will get transition packages that most Australian workers never see when their industry gets phased out.

    And it isn’t like taking the RE course eliminates mining in Australia – on the contrary, the transition to low emissions involves mining and use of resources and industry at unprecedented scales. Just not coal and gas and oil mining.

  29. Ken Fabian,

    An excellent answer which skewers the fallacies and moral bankruptcy of the position HC argues for. I wish I had thought it and written it myself. I am not saying HC is morally bankrupt, I am simply saying that that position is morally bankrupt. Equally, my real consumption situation is morally bankrupt because my carbon footprint is (and has been) higher than the global per capita sustainable level. We in the first world are all, or mostly, morally culpable in one way or another on this issue.

    The central problem is that rapidly moving from fossil fuel use to RE is both absolutely necessary and completely unrealistic under the current political economy. Radically changing our political economy or that of the globe is also completely unrealistic, at this stage in history. I wish it were not so but it does appear to be so.

    The best we can do is keep advocating policies which would stop climate change no matter how unrealistic these policies currently seem politically or in a capitalist-systems sense. Until there is a game changer these policies won’t become realistic. If there is a game changer these policies might become realistic. A “game changer” will be a natural physical / biological event, in the form a large civilizational or regional catastrophe directly and undeniably attributable to climate change. It will need to possess ample demonstration effects on the global human population such that the majority in a majority of nations become stridently, radically and forcefully in favor of rapidly phasing out and banning fossil fuels. Not to put too fine a point on it, the public at large needs to become absolutely terrified by clear and present or closely imminent risks to life, limb, wealth and amenity from climate driven catastrophes. Then and only then will the public demand and indeed force action.

  30. Its nice to know, Iconoclast, that I am not morally bankrupt even if the policy position I adopt is. The distinction is a subtle one though greatly appreciated as I take the not-so-long march towards boot hill.

    There is nothing wrong with trying to restrict Australia’s coal exports or to stop new mines from developing – go for it. The difficulty is that it won’t happen and, even if it did, the impact on climate would be negligible. Coal use in a coal-abundant world is mainly demand-determined and my policy position addresses demand.

    Taxing carbon consumption – leaving out carbon intensive exports and taxing carbon-intensive imports – has desirable incentive effects for generating an international consensus as I mentioned. It is also something that countries can adopt one at a time so you don’t need to start off with a comprehensive agreement plus promises, sanctions, threats etc.

    The urge to endorse renewables and the desire to eliminate coal exports are issues that I often see addressed here. But these seem secondary to me to the issue of achieving a good global response to climate based directly or indirectly on a carbon price and then allowing markets to do their thing. The weak point always seems to me US government policies but things may change in that direction if Trump is not reelected. It is good that the destination-based tax base is now being discussed in the US and taken seriously.

  31. HC,

    I also am undertaking the “not-so-long march towards boot hill”. I have decided to torture myself in my last decades with issues of philosophy, ontology and the ontology of economics. I must be a masochist, especially as I am not educationally fitted to these tasks. Take a look at my long post in the latest Sandpit thread and you will see what I mean.

  32. “The weak point always seems to me US government policies but things may change in that direction if Trump is not reelected. if Trump is not reelected”

    There is little if any objective reason to think Trump won’t be re-elected, so it will be (at least) another four years before there’s a positive US administration. An even if there is, the Democrats would need to control both houses of Congress which will be be a big ask. And even if they do, there will be Democrats from resource states who will have the power to stop anything meaningful happening.

    So counting on helpful US government policies is waiting for Godot-ish.

  33. Harry Clarke refers to “demand” meaning economic demand. This raises an interesting point because demand has at least one other meaning, namely moral or public demand. The issue is which kind of demand we allow to be operational in our society for various products.

    For example, there is an economic demand for the products (objectified persons) of sexual slavery. At the same time there is a moral and public demand to end it (to ban it and ensure effective compliance with that ban.) There are obvious cases where we consider that moral demands should outrank economic demands.

    It is clear from various analyses that a proportion of all fossil fuels should be left in the ground. There are large reserves of fossil fuels which cannot be burned if we are to avoid more than 1.5 degrees C of global warming as set by the Paris Agreement. There seems to be general scientific agreement that 1.5 degrees C warming is the most we can safely allow and even that level might be unsafe.

    Leaving the necessary amount of fossil fuel reserves in the ground means leaving assets stranded. Every nation seems to want to play musical chairs with this, in that they want to end up on the seat with the least stranded assets and they want other nations to end up on the seat(s) with more stranded assets. Either that or they will all burn too much together and all collapse together from climate change damage.

    It’s clear that a moral demand needs to be made for nations to accept stranded fossil fuel assets. This is not about economics at all, it’s about morality. If the destruction of the biosphere (effective destruction of its capacity to sustain human and much complex animal and plant life), is not about morality then I don’t know what is. People (especially but not only social conservatives) want to invoke morality in some cases and economics in other cases. They want to pick and choose which kind of demand (economic or moral) is put on the table, on a case by case basis. Case by case determinations are fine but not when fundamental criteria (life quality and survival) are selectively invoked or ignored.

    Having said all that, mine is a purist or idealist position and not a realist position. Harry Clarke might be advocating the most realistic position which actually has a chance of partial (definitely only partial) amelioration of AGW dangers. However, I am not sure. It could easily turn out to be an essentially temporizing strategy, one that makes no substantial difference to the problem and simply paves the way to catastrophic AGW.

    HC is not a neoliberal from what I read. However, my admittedly rather subjective judgement of neoliberalism is that it propounds, promotes and gratefully accepts from other quarters all temporizing solutions which functionally enable the indefinite continuance of business as usual.

  34. Ikonoclast – thanks. It is hard to tone down the depth of my concern. I think anyone not frightened by what is happening to Australia’s climate and remains unalarmed at what another global 4 or 5 degrees might do can’t have been paying attention or thinking this through.

    I think it requires believing three decades of top level expert advice is completely wrong just to avoid the mortal shame that suggesting ‘if the cost of regaining climate stability is Australia’s coal industry we should just let the planet cook’ ought to bring – yet that is the position the current LNP government holds (and possibly Labor too). It is hard to gather much optimism, yet the denial is getting harder to justify and sustain, technology that can help is becoming mainstream and less of the public is ignorant and apathetic.
    ——————————————————————

    Harry – “The urge to endorse renewables and the desire to eliminate coal exports are issues that I often see addressed here. But these seem secondary to me to the issue of achieving a good global response to climate based directly or indirectly on a carbon price and then allowing markets to do their thing.”

    The idea that we should use pricing carbon and let markets do their thing has been consistently well supported here. It is the absence of any prospect of carbon pricing – something both The Greens and Labor have put up and the LNP/IPA/MCA/BCA pulled down and still oppose ferociously – that prompts efforts by other means, such as increasing direct support for RE and upping (border neutral) calls for an orderly but rapid as possible phase out of coal mining, starting with no new mines. I have a say – if a small one – in Australia’s coal mines. Starting there makes sense to me. I’m quite non-discriminatory; whether it’s coal for domestic use or coal for export, either way.

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