PASSWORD RESET

Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

Carbon tax: No climate solutions from major parties

Tony Abbott is manoeuvring to fulfil his election promise of repealing the carbon tax. This is yet another sorry stage in the carbon tax saga in which working people will bear the costs.

The carbon tax has never been a solution to climate change. In the scheme, compensation for big polluters far outweighs proposed spending on renewable energy; billions of dollars have already been handed over to the coal industry in exchange for nothing; and ordinary people pay the bulk of the tax cost through higher prices and public funds wasted on private compensation.

Even before Abbott won the election coal exploration was expanding, and experts were predicting a healthy increase in coal investment through to at least 2017. The ALP and the Greens told us the carbon tax would result in the big polluters reducing their emissions, but there is little doubt it has merely enriched some of the worst offenders.

Abbott needs to convince the new minority forces in the Senate to support repealing the tax. If he succeeds, ordinary people face yet another cost: companies cashing in their 87 million freely allocated carbon dioxide permits. It is predicted the public will have to pay $2 billion when companies cash in these permits that they received free of charge.

Recently elected billionaire Clive Palmer is already throwing his weight around on this issue, but for cynical reasons. Palmer has convinced Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party senator Ricky Muir to join forces with the three Palmer United Party (PUP) senators. Muir plus the PUP senators will hold the balance of power in the new senate. Palmer is threatening to block all legislation, including the carbon tax repeal, unless the Government gives his party the same amount of staff and resources the Greens received when they held the balance of power role with twice the number of senators.

Despite the fact that the tax does not work, the Greens are still championing the carbon tax as one of their biggest achievements. Christine Milne, who rose to the Greens leadership on a platform of a turn to progressive business, is still naively insisting there is ‘a transformation going on around the country.’

The reality is that big business is laughing at the ALP, the Greens and the public. It is demanding and receiving more and more public funding but not doing anything to reduce emissions.

While billionaires and big business make a mockery of the impending climate change catastrophe scientists are providing ever more specific warnings about what is coming. The journal Nature recently published a study pinpointing likely starting dates for climates hotter than we have ever experienced. Kingston, Jamaica, will reach this point in roughly a decade. The whole world will cross this threshold by roughly 2047. The consequences will be terrible.

While the Socialist Party points out that the carbon tax was never going to work, we similarly have no faith in any of the Abbott government’s proposals. The major parties are not capable of solving the environmental problems we face. This is because they refuse to tackle the root cause of climate change: capitalism, and the relentless drive for profit. In this system, people and the environment are simply not the priority.

Ordinary working people need to say no to the ridiculous games of all the capitalist parties. We need to fight for policies that genuinely put the interests of people and the environment first. In short we can not leave decision making in the hands of the profiteers.

Only on the basis of public ownership of the big energy and mining companies could we begin to plan the transition away from fossil fuels and towards mass investment into renewable energy. With a publicly controlled sustainable plan of production in place we could also protect jobs and local communities while the urgent decisions that need to be made about our future could happen without the cynical meddling of big business.

By Chris Dite