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Consensus on ETS unlikely
letter published in The Australian Financial Review, 13 July 2010

Your lead report (“Gillard woos business on climate”, 9 July) claims that (unnamed) government sources are searching for a way of pricing carbon without having an emissions trading scheme and/or of imposing regulations that would limit emissions of CO2 and “effectively ban new coal mines”.

It is suggested that, unless there is greater certainty about possible future sources  of energy,  adequate investment in power supplies will not occur. The “need for certainty” argument is of course a tired one.

Even in the highly unlikely event of some form of international agreement on an ETS scheme, enormous uncertainty would remain about the future effective  price of carbon; that is, after allowing for credits and other avoidance devices. Anyone with practical knowledge of negotiating international agreements, which doesn’t seem to include those presently involved in climate change, would recognise this. In addition, Prime Minister Gillard says that her government wants to get a “community consensus” on the need for action.

Those who believe that dangerous warming is occurring claim the basic (sic) science remains valid and simply take no account of the many errors and manipulations of temperature data made in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other analysts.

And while claiming, for example, that the Muir Russell Review has cleared the important Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University of any malfeasance, they ignore the identification already of  many gaffes and errors in the review and its failure to interview more than one side.

In reality, it is now difficult to envisage any polling showing a community consensus for lowering emissions , particularly as over the last 12 years or so global temperatures have been flat when the supposed temperature driving force (human activity) has increased. In present circumstances the chances of a community consensus for action to reduce emissions must be near zero.

The most appropriate policy for the PM should be to recognise that coal is Australia’s most valuable asset and accept that we need new coal-fired power stations to sustain growth.

Des Moore
Director, Institute for Private Enterprise,
South Yarra Vic    

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