Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Discussing a Clean Energy Future

On 13th September 18 bills were tabled in Australian parliament covering the Clean Energy Future Package including financially penalising the major carbon polluters in the country. As experienced in the past it is not unusual for large companies to throw large sums at money to confuse an issue with propaganda. It makes sense for them to challenge the introduction of a carbon tax as for them it would have a financial impact, be another expense if they were to continue polluting the atmosphere as they currently do. However one of the aims of the carbon tax is to encourage these large polluting companies to be pro-active in finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Unfortunately not all companies are seeing this as a door of opportunity.

The time has got to come when companies, governments and decision makers realise that taking short sighted actions now to obtain economic security is not going be of long term long term if it is at the detriment of the environment and the climate. If the environment continues to deteriorate more finances will be needed in the future to deal with environmental issues, health care, resource acquirement and disaster relief further unbalancing the economy. As the famous American Indian proverbs states;

“Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

Australia is not the first country to implement a price on carbon. In Europe 31 countries have had a penalty applied to polluters since 2005. In the USA, 23 states have a price on pollution. China will run a pilot in five ‘low carbon’ provinces as part of its current five year plan, and India already has a coal tax that works similarly to a carbon price. Even Australia’s neighbor, New Zealand has already priced pollution.

One of the concerns is that the cost of living will increase for an average household. Australian Treasury believes the average household will see an increase of $9.90 a week. For low income earners and pensioners this may be significant but there are two measures that have been introduced as part of the Clean Energy Future Package to soften the impact of these price rises. Firstly, the tax-free threshold will be more than tripled from $6,000 to $18,200. Suddenly about one million people won’t need to pay income tax or file a tax return. People earning less than $80,000 per year will also receive a tax cutoff about $300 per year. Secondly, pensioners and self-funded retirees, as well as family payment recipients and other allowance recipients will see their payments increase. Some people may be better off.
Besides as per this chart, a majority of the price increase is from electricity and gas usage. This is a great opportunity for households to also be proactive about cutting their carbon foot print. This is an opportunity for greatness, not a punishment!

Trying to find legitimate arguments against the carbon tax is a challenge. The arguments seem to be focused on insulting PM Julia Gillard personally or pointing out corruption in other countries related to the running of pollution monitoring. Corruption is evident in many industries and is hardly an argument to support not working towards a better environment.

Now is the time for Australia to take action and head towards a greener future. WWF has a great video regarding the issue. Click here to view it (If you are a fan of a good looking firefighter, there is a pleasant addition for you). WWF invites you to discuss the issue with your colleagues, neighbors or friends by hosting a morning tea. Click here to get a poster to promote your morning tea, the video for you to play, a pamphlet to hand out and a Q&A for you (in case you get asked any questions that the video doesn’t answer). Best of all there are some yummy some cake and gingerbread recipes! Just remember when discussing both sides of the argument don’t just look at what each side is saying but ask the question, “Why would they want to say that?”

Another great video to check out:

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