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Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Prime Minister lures us into a carbon tax folly!
JOHN Howard wants Julia Gillard to stop using him as an excuse for her carbon dioxide tax, which he fears will cost Australian jobs.
"What is now being proposed is well ahead of the rest of the world," the former prime minister warns.
Howard's rebuke just confirms why not a word Gillard says in favour of her dangerous tax can be trusted.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Gillard misleadingly named just two people in her support as she unveiled her plans for a $23 a tonne price on carbon dioxide emissions.
"Another female leader, (former British prime minister) Margaret Thatcher, warned the planet about the effects of climate change," said Gillard.
"John Howard, when he was prime minister, determined to put a price on carbon pollution."
In her address to the nation and each day since, Gillard repeatedly named Howard as someone who agreed with "a price on carbon", hoping by her pitch to win over conservatives and embarrass the Opposition.
But Howard has had enough. He won't admit he was wrong on global warming or wrong to promise an emissions trading scheme in his last desperate bid to stave off defeat at the 2007 election.
Yes, says Howard, he did promise to bring in an ETS by 2012, but that was always conditional on the rest of the world moving to something similar.
"I indicated at the time we would act in concert with the rest of the world, and not ahead of it," he says.
Otherwise, big Australian emitters would simply lose business to other countries without an ETS or carbon dioxide tax, costing us money and jobs, without cutting global emissions.
Howard concedes he did not always make this as clear as he should have, but points to his speech to the Liberal Party federal council in June 2007, in which he spelled out his caveat:
"The scheme will be national in scope and as comprehensive as practicable, designed to take account of global developments and to preserve the competitiveness of our trade-exposed emissions-intensive industries."
Since then, any hope or fear of a global agreement on cutting emissions has died, following the collapse in 2009 of the Copenhagen negotiations.
China, the world's biggest emitter, explicitly says it will not cut its emissions, which are predicted to soar over the next two decades, much of it through burning the Australian coal that Gillard and the Greens now want to stop Australians themselves from using for cheap power.
The United States, the world's second-biggest emitter, will not agree to any national ETS or carbon dioxide tax, either, especially now that it's drowning in debt and strangled by an unemployment rate of 9.2 per cent. Even President Barack Obama has abandoned his own plans for an ETS.
Meanwhile, our main competitors in coal exports, such as Canada and Brazil, are guaranteeing investors they will not impose a tax like ours.
As Howard says, this means Gillard's carbon dioxide tax will put Australia "well ahead of the rest of the world" - and well ahead of anything Howard could endorse.
And how wedded were Howard's Liberals to an ETS anyway? Two former ministers say privately they cannot recall Howard ever seeking formal Cabinet endorsement for the ETS he campaigned on at the 2007 election, and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott yesterday refused to confirm - or deny - it had received Cabinet approval.
Yet Howard's promise of an ETS left the Liberals with a legacy that Labor has exploited to this day. He could undo some of that damage by finally saying that real-world evidence has changed his mind about how clear a danger man-made warming really is.
Indeed, Margaret Thatcher in 2003 backed away from her own early alarmism, which makes Gillard's use of her name even more misleading.
In her book Statecraft, Thatcher devoted a chapter she headed "Hot Air and Global Warming" to attacking warmist "doomsters", casting doubt on their theories and warning against "costly and economically damaging" schemes to cut carbon dioxide emissions - schemes like Gillard's.
On Sunday, one of the world's greatest climate scientists, Prof Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made the very same criticisms of Gillard's tax.
Lindzen, a former lead author of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noted that "since ... 1995, there hasn't been much warming, certainly not that can be distinguished from noise," and global warming models had wildly overestimated the warming we should expect.
Moreover, even if man was warming the planet slightly, that warming could be good for us, and nothing Australia did could stop it anyway, even if the whole world joined us.
"I think there's no disagreement in the scientific community that this will have no impact on climate, so it's purely a matter of government revenue."
All of which explains why Gillard cannot sell her carbon dioxide tax.
It's not that she's a bad saleswoman, although she is. It's that what she's selling is a giant fraud that mere spin cannot hide.
The world isn't warming as she thought. That warming isn't producing the dangers she and her advisers predicted, with the drought now ended, the number of cyclones falling, sea rises slowing and the ski slopes as full of snow as ever.
The people she cites as supporters say they're not, and even the very words she uses to describe carbon dioxide - "carbon pollution" - are a lie. Carbon is a solid. Carbon dioxide is a gas.
Pollution kills stuff. Carbon dioxide makes plants grow, and if we scrubbed the atmosphere clean of this gas, we'd die, too, from cold and lack of plant-made oxygen.
The nation is being led to a gigantic folly, lured to a cliff.