When there is much agitation about something, what can the government do? It can resort to the most dependable weapon that can save it from public criticism-and that weapon is having a policy in place. Now what is interesting is that the viability of such a policy is only a secondary issue. You are expected to celebrate the responsiveness of the government towards its principles.
Before my words get any more political and tend to offend a few of you, let me move towards the centre point of this article. And that is the Australian government’s announcement of its Direct Action Plan to deal with climatic change.
What is this Direct Action Plan?:
The Coalition has sought an alternative to the Labor’s carbon pricing policy. The proposed plan seeks to give incentives to polluters to reduce their existing emissions. The government feels this policy will work better than an electricity tax covering the entire nation. It has set targets of reducing emissions by the year 2020 by 5% below 2000 levels. This ideology has come under great criticism from countries such as the US, Brazil and China and also agglomerations such as the EU. These countries have deemed the targets as inadequate, raising questions about the effectiveness of government policies. Indeed, there is skepticism about the nature of these policies even within the countries.
A survey conducted by Fairfex Media among 35 top economists revealed figures that dropped our jaws here at SQHQ. To put it modestly, 86% of the economists felt that the existing carbon tax regime is more viable than the Coalition’s new policy. So if I were to break the raw figures to you, only two were in support of Direct Action! What amused me the most was the reason one of those two humble men gave for backing the plan. He said Direct Action stood for ‘no action’ and that was reason enough to justify his vote. And this gives impetus to all those hundreds of polluters to continue running their businesses and corporations with greater efficiency (and less sustainability).
Coming back to the results this survey yielded, thirty others voted in favor of carbon pricing. This policy is based on the idea that polluters pay the price for the damage they do to the environment. And who would want to spend that extra dollar (or dollars) on something as irrelevant as carbon emissions? But the Coalition does not seem pretty happy with this idea and has therefore put its own action plan in place.
In this entire blame-game of politics that we are all stuck up in (whether we choose to or not), we fail to recognize the harsh reality. Australia stands to be the fifteenth largest emitter in the world. Numerically, it accounts for 1.3% of the global greenhouse emissions. And what contributes most to greenhouse gas emissions? It is electricity generation and subsequent consumption. The Labor has most religiously campaigned for a higher target of 15 or 20%, which has been declined by the Coalition as threatening its international obligations.
At the bottom of such debate, we can only appreciate the irony behind the name of the project which claims to bring about ‘direct action’!