Friday, April 10, 2009

Call for carbon tax to fight warming

Paul Austin 
The Age, April 11, 2009

VICTORIAN Governor David de Kretser has called for consideration of a carbon tax, to increase the price of goods produced using energy from high-pollution power stations.

He has also implicitly criticised the Rudd Government's planned emissions trading scheme, saying many people suggest it will "favour polluting industries and dissuade community actions to move to more renewable energy sources".

In a speech to an environmental sustainability conference at Monash University, Professor de Kretser suggested a carbon tax might be a more effective weapon in the fight against global warming, because it would drive high-polluting developing countries towards renewable energy.

Under his proposal, consumers in developed nations such as Australia would pay more for many imported goods.

"Given that the production of goods takes place in developing countries, there will be a need for the developed world to subsidise them in building more renewable sources of energy," Professor de Kretser said.

The Governor was criticised by state Liberal MP Bernie Finn last week for involving himself in what Mr Finn called the "highly contentious political issue" of global warming.

In his previously unreported Monash speech, delivered last month, Professor de Kretser said Australians needed to remember that many of the greenhouse gas emissions from countries such as China, India and Indonesia were the result of "our desire for the goods that they manufacture and sell to us".

"In effect, we have moved the factories that service our needs to their land to take the benefit of the low cost of their labour."

Professor de Kretser said Australians should recognise that the emissions caused by the personal actions of most of India's 1 billion people "can be considered as 'survival' emissions, rather than ours, which can be considered 'lifestyle' emissions".

He called on individual Australians to reduce their "environmental footprint", and on governments to legislate "to change people's lifestyle".

"Unlike war-time approaches, where people have tangible evidence of life-threatening issues, climate change is insidious and slow to demonstrate its effects," Professor de Kretser said. "We have, therefore, been slow to take up the challenge."

Professor de Kretser urged Australians to think carefully about how they spent the "economic stimulus" grants from the Federal Government.

"Should it prop up rampant consumerism that takes no note of the reality that we live on a planet with finite resources?" he said.

"Or should it be spent on building a sustainable lifestyle that emphasises the values of a society that cares for this planet, that cares for and values its biodiversity, that creates a framework where citizens respect each other, where children and adolescents are nurtured, mentored and cared for and in return who respect the older generations for their wisdom and contributions?"

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