With all the recent debate over carbon tax and the Gillard Government's approval rating in decline, it would seem prudent to discuss whether carbon tax is to blame. It may also be helpful for anyone remaining in the dark on the whole issue to get up to speed. For these reasons I feel I should share what I know and try to unpack the issue a little.
Climate Change is one of the new "C" words and the other is Carbon. Both are particularly nasty and all sides of politics have expressed the implications to our living standards vocally and at length. So why is carbon tax such an issue?
Any tax, whatever its purpose and implementation, strikes fear into the hearts of ordinary people, especially those in the low income bracket. The large polluters have played down climate change and we are told it is something that will impact at some convenient time beyond our lifetime.
The last two years have seen some of the worst weather events in Australian history. Australia is not alone and those impacts are being felt on every continent and with ever increasing frequency. Those charged with the task of documenting and understanding what is happening to our world are in no doubt that climate change is happening now and faster than first thought. Climate change is with us now. "The Critical Decade Report", published by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, tells us the current decade is our last chance to fix the problem. http://goo.gl/AJgcc
Senator Christine Milne said on Thursday that we have to act now on climate change and we have to attack the problem with force and not take tiny steps to appease certain people. Bob Brown also said this in his address to the National Press Club Wednesday. Both went on to say that without a market mechanism climate change mitigation would not take place.
The large multi-national companies that make up Australia's mining sector don't want change and have lobbied heavily to maintain a business-as-usual platform. The Labor Government and the Greens have said low to middle income earners will get compensation. One therefore needs to peep beyond the hype and look at the facts:
• CLIMATE CHANGE IS HERE AND NEEDS OUR ATTENTION.
• BIG BUSINESS WON'T BUDGE WITHOUT A COST IMPOST.
• ANYONE EARNING LESS THEN $150,000 PA WILL BE COMPENSATED.
In a recent poll conducted all over Australia and using interviews with 14,000 people, it was discovered that most Australians want action on climate change and would like a carbon tax imposed as soon as possible. This is a far greater number of interviewees than any other poll conducted. http://goo.gl/xcNkm
It would seem then that Gillard's fall from grace is not as a result of carbon tax and it makes one wonder just how accurate the other polls are at depicting political positioning?
All that is needed now is to implement the tax and get on with the job of making it work. Carbon tax however, is not due to be introduced until July 2012 and as most people, as indicated in the recent poll, want immediate action on climate change it is up to government, business and individuals to start converting to renewable energy use. A multi-faceted approach to energy production is the best way to quickly implement change and methods that have multiple advantages are best. Examples of this are: Wave power generation with desalination of water as a bi-product http://goo.gl/KhLhC And biomass energy, using waste to create heat energy without emissions and the bi-product of Biochar being used to put carbon back into the soil and fertilise food crops, without chemicals. http://goo.gl/GVQ3P
The use of commercial hemp as a plant to produce fibre will also produce a healthy and reliable food source as well as energy. In paper manufacturing, one hectare of hemp will make as much quality paper as 4.1 hectares of trees and at a cheaper rate and with less energy and chemical use. The seed contains pure oils capable of producing a clean alternative to Diesel and the oils can be consumed by humans. The seed meal is around 25% protein and contains the 8 essential amino acids normally only found in meat. This could reduce our reliance on meat and cut methane emissions.
Those who don't want change have labelled photovoltaic solar energy inefficient and incapable of base-load power generation. And, I suppose one would agree if it were to be considered on the scale it has been shown so far. It is also costly to produce silicon panels, very energy consuming and wasteful. However, like anything new it requires development. I read yesterday that it is possible to spray buildings (walls and roofs) with a special dye that absorbs solar energy in much the same way as chlorophyll in a leaf and can produce electrical power even in low light. The area is also so vast that it is capable of running whole buildings. http://goo.gl/GsNzQ
I also read of a company using inkjet technology to print solar cells onto various surfaces. Again, the new methods show it is possible not only to reduce costs and therefore increase surface areas but also to combine benefits, such as a 20-year paint surface and an energy efficient building. http://goo.gl/J2IDt
It is this sort of smart thinking that can make alternative energy projects profitable and create thousands of new and sustainable jobs. The future is far brighter than the large polluters and those who succumb to lobbying are willing to admit. We can be 100% renewable and lot quicker than existing targets predict. Carbon tax is a tool to affect change and I say BRING IT ON!