Carbon Price

Jul 11, 2011

Why a price on pollution is worth it

For a look at how the commentariat are judging Gillard's carbon price, check out the commentary wrap

For a look at how the commentariat are judging Gillard’s carbon price, check out the commentary wrap on the Crikey website. It also contains details of the policy from the cost of carbon ($23 a tonne) to how much compensation industry will get ($9.2 billion).

Ellen Sandell writes: Yesterday the Sunday Telegraph ran a headline about Tim Tams and Weet-Bix — and how Gillard would use them as ‘typical Aussie’ products that would rise only a fraction under the carbon price. Today as I open the newspaper I can see that the headlines are similar: how much will this cost? What will the compensation be? Who will be better off when we introduce a policy to put a price on pollution?

The government even has a calculator on its website where you can work out how much it will cost you (I’ll be $33 better off, in case you were wondering).

But despite the government banging on and on about the fact that Australian families won’t be worse off under a carbon price, people still aren’t listening, because we have forgotten to talk about the ‘why’.

Why are we doing this in the first place?

Many polls have shown that people are willing to pay something to clean up our environment and invest in the future, because they can see that the outcome is worthwhile. But in this climate debate we have got sucked into the cost frame and stopped talking about what we’re trying to achieve — and people won’t pay for something if they don’t understand the point of it.

So let’s talk about what is worth paying for:

Powering Australia by 100% renewable energy is worth it.

Cleaning up our skies so we can breathe easier is worth it.

Shutting down the most inefficient power stations in the world, is worth it.

Stopping our biggest polluters pumping tonnes of pollution into the atmosphere for free, is worth it.

And ensuring that our kids still have a planet to live on in the future, is definitely worth it.

The policy announced yesterday, with $10 billion of new money for clean energy projects, and increasing the government’s emission reduction target from 60% to 80% by 2050 is a really great step in the right direction, and we need all politicians to support it, because it will start getting us to the future we want to see.

Over the last week, 100 young people have been walking the halls of Parliament talking to politicians about what this policy means for their future and this video sums up nicely why the Australian Youth Climate Coalition has been working tirelessly to put a price on pollution and is happy about the announcement yesterday: because we can see what the outcome could be.

Ellen is national director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition

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15 thoughts on “Why a price on pollution is worth it

  1. kd

    wow. I am amazed by this irrational hatred for the greens (based on lies and misunderstandings to boot). All because the delusional right wing don’t recognise that their position is tainted by short term self interest at the expense of everyone else’s long term interests.

  2. senior

    Old turbine design, that’s priceless. it’s a turbine blade you effin idiot, the design of fan blades has been the same for 150 years. How the hell do you propose we power the whole world with ”slower” turbines. And it’s Labor and the greens that have a hidden agenda you stupid, self-righteous, antagonising idiot, everyone knows that. “Lets get a carbon cop (gestapo) to fine people a million dollars for not paying the carbon tax”. Yeh that doesn’t sound like socialism or communism at all. But i suppose if the greens had it completely their way we’d be off to the gulags for not paying.

  3. Frank Campbell

    PB: you know there are many objections to wind turbines apart from bird deaths. When I first saw Altamont Pass in 1986, I was amazed at the hundreds of dead turbines, left to rust. Very America. Like Detroit today, just left to rot. Turbines in Australia will probably be abandoned when obsolete- I know some companies plan to remove only the valuable parts and leave the towers.

    Modern turbines are more dangerous to birds and bats than the old small ones- they spin at 270 kph and have a span the size of a cricket oval. 80 to 100 metres in diameter.

    Industrial wind is essentially a planning issue. Bird and bat deaths are only one consideration. The fury in the bush is caused by ignoring residents’ basic rights, not bird kill. Most people think turbines should be placed well away from important tourist areas, housing etc. The climate cult has over-ridden normal planning controls. There is no compensation.

    There is only one way wind can be of any use whatever- it depends entirely on storage at reasonable cost. That’s the only way to overcome intermittency. If and when that happens, the planning issues remain.

  4. PeeBee

    Thanks Frank, does look like a problem with the Altamonth Pass windfarm. It appears some of the problem is the old Turbine design where the blades rotate fast. (And probably why I haven’t seen any evidence of this myself, because I have not seen any of these older type Turbines).

    Here is a question for you Frank, would you be opposed to Wind Turbines if the newer designs turn out to be benign to passing birds?

  5. Frank Campbell

    Scores of thousands have been killed at Altamont Pass. Took 2 seconds to google innumerable sites with Atamont Pass birds death wind turbines. Then there’s Marc Duchamp the ornithologist in Spain…he specialises in birds and turbines.

  6. PeeBee


    Have you seen the devastation yourself personally? I go out of my way to check Wind Turbines and never seen a dead bird. You would think if it was a real problem, there would be the odd carcass laying around. I am not saying you are making this up, but where is your evidence that birds and bats are killed by Wind Turbines? I searched for Altamont Pass as you suggested, but found only one picture of a dead bird, which could have been road kill for all I know.

  7. kd


    Absolutely, we must go to the scare websites with possible hidden agenda. That makes far more sense than the looking at the scientific literature. Specifically the best review I fond on the topic of wind farms and birds I could find says that “is unclear if the negative impact [on bird abundance around wind farms] is a decline in population abundance or a decline in use owing to avoidance”. Your next job is to compare that to the biodiversity and health impacts of coal fired power stations.

    Give the denier arguments a rest dude.

  8. Frank Campbell

    PB: Proof? Under every turbine. Innumerable websites for your perusal. Start with Altamont Pass.
    Pressure causes bats’ lungs to explode. Eagles are simply chopped. They are often drawn to the turbines (which spin at 270 kph) by the sight of killed birds.

  9. PeeBee

    Frank Cambell, or see the dead eagles and exploded bats I presume you mean because of wind turbines. Could you provide proof of this?

  10. kd

    [ The tax is unilateral. No other country is doing this or gives a stuff what Australia does.]

    See, Frank is clearly failing to see outside of his own mind here. Recently it was reported that the EC will soon be putting a surcharge on airliners originating from countries that do not implement carbon pricing of their own.


  11. John64

    The policy announced yesterday, with $10 billion of new money for clean energy projects, and increasing the government’s emission reduction target from 60% to 80% by 2050

    With no plan to reach that goal other than crossing their fingers and hoping for some kind of miracle (like the invention of commercially viable Fusion power – which incidentally doesn’t need a tax and copious amounts of compensation to incentivise it but probably wouldn’t mind an injection of R&D… but then that would be picking winners I guess and that upsets the SOLAR POWER WIND SOLAR POWER WIND mantra everyone likes to chant).

  12. Frank Campbell

    “people won’t pay for something if they don’t understand the point of it”

    Patronising. People now realise the following:

    The tax is unilateral. No other country is doing this or gives a stuff what Australia does.

    Zero Australian emissions would have zero effect on climate.

    Gillard said last week “Coal has a fantastic future”. The Greens want to close coal and gas down. The hypocrisy and contradiction is obvious- Australia’s coal and gas exports will expand for decades. We’ll send the “pollutant” overseas.

    Renewables R and D has been neglected for years. The $13 billion will mostly be thrown at useless wind and (current technology) solar, which has to be backed up 24/7 by fossil fuel power. British power companies are demanding $10 billion from the govt. for new gas power stations- to back up wind turbines which produce only 20% of the time.

    So childish urban middle class cant from Ellen Sandell will simply put more people off progressive politics.

    The road to Abbott is paved with your good intentions, Ellen.

    And I bet you’ll never, ever, live near a wind turbine…or see the dead eagles and exploded bats. Or see sleepless people driven from their unsaleable homes by incessant noise.
    The cruelty and contempt for basic human rights of my party, the Greens, will come to haunt them.

  13. Mark Duffett

    Powering Australia by 100% renewable energy is worth it.

    No. No, it isn’t.

    Powering Australia by 100% low-carbon energy is worth it. But that’s not the same thing. The AYCC needs to make up its mind whether it’s advocating for a safer climate, or pushing a particular set of technologies, the practicality of which it is conspicuously ill-qualified to judge. The latter badly compromises the credibility of the former. Powering Australia by 100% renewable energy is not worth it, not when the cost would be upwards of a trillion dollars, and there are more balanced, cheaper, much more reliable solutions available.

  14. shepherdmarilyn

    I am wondering when someone is going to ask the COALition why they think we should keep polluting and destroying the water ways, killing the soils, poisoning our atmosphere and blackening the skies (thanks Barry McGuire) just to pander to the people doing it.

    Would the COALition allow garbage to pile up in the streets or are they happy to pay councils to do remove it.

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