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John Passant

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August 2011



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



The carbon tax: locking in fossil fuels for 60 years?

Readers of this blog will know I reject a carbon tax as a neoliberal solution which is designed in the medium to long term to make workers pay for the environmental crisis of captialism.

There is another reason for rejecting the tax. It is not, as many Greens claim, at least a first step to addressing climate change. It is actually a mechanism for locking in fossil fuels – gas – for the next 60 years.

At the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival I went to a talk by Matthew Wright, CEO of Beyond Zero Emissions. Matthew made the point that what he called a ‘twilight zone’ carbon price of between $30 and $70 a tonne would entrench gas fired power stations as the main source of our electricity for the next 40 to 60 years.

Why? Because business will only invest in gas if there is certainty of long term returns. The life of the plant is estimated to be at least 40 years. They are not going to invest in gas fired power stations if the return disappears after ten years because of a move to renewables. In that short period the investment may not have even paid for itself.

Is there that certainty? According to Matthew gas exploration companies have earmarked 30 percent of Australia for gas and coal seam gas exploration. The carbon pricing mechanism gives the exploration companies and the electricity generator companies that 40 year certainty.

According to Matthew, and viewed over the life cycle of natural gas (including coal seam gas) it releases fifty percent less CO2 than the next least polluting coal.

But to reverse the current headlong gallop to an environmental tipping point we need not just to reduce CO2 emissions but to stop them.  

Instead the current carbon tax locks in CO2 emissions.

Is a renewable energy economy by 2020 feasible? According to Beyond Zero Emissions it is.

It will cost $37 billion a year to move from fossil fuels to renewables. That is about 3 percent of GDP. It is also about one-third of the revenue foregone – $113 billion per annum – through tax exemptions and extra deductions we disguise each year through the tax system, a large amount of which goes to business.

Solar thermal and wind power would create 150,000 jobs, according to Beyond Zero Emissions.

Instead of locking in gas fired power stations, let’s move to a totally renewable energy Australia by 2020. Despite BZE’s faith in the market, subsidies and government spending, that won’t happen without a social revolution, a mass upsurge  of working people to move away from concepts of profitability to satisfying human need democratically.

That won’t happen on climate change itself, but it might begin if the global financial crisis part II deepens and the bourgeoisie begins to attack workers’ jobs, wages and conditions and cuts public services. But once a fightback begins it can become a festival of ideas and the economic can spill over into the political and both reinforce each other.

We need a democratic revolution and workers’ state to move as soon as possible to a renewable energy economy.

I have written this from memory and in a motel room far removed from home. Feel free to point out errors of expression, facts and interpretation.



Comment from message gift
Time August 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant. The primordial Earth had CO2 levels in excess of 20 times the levels we have now. This CO2 was photosynthesized into oxygen by cyanobacteria. So long as we have cyanobacteria CO2 is not a threat.

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