Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:13 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:13 | SYDNEY

More on conservatives and climate


Sam Roggeveen


9 December 2009 08:48

Following up a post I wrote in November about how persuade climate sceptics to go along with emissions trading, I notice that, right to the end of his time as Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull stuck to the risk management argument on climate change.

But as I said in November, that argument doesn't get you very far with hard-core sceptics, since they regard climate change as an outright fraud. Asking these people to go along with an ETS as a form of risk management is like trying to persuade them to buy insurance in case they're struck by a flying pig.

Much better, I think, to stress the benefits of efficiency that come with carbon reductions, and this morning I found an old soundbite from US Senator John McCain that captures this argument quite neatly:

(I)f we are right about climate change and do nothing, we've destroyed the planet for our grandchildren; if we're wrong about climate change and take action, we've left them a cleaner and more energy-efficient world.

Yes, it's just a slogan, but perhaps a slightly harder one for the Minchins and Joyces of the world to dismiss.

You might argue this is all water under the bridge, since under new leader Tony Abbott, the Coalition is firmly opposed to the emissions trading scheme. Abbott has promised a new Coalition climate change policy by early in the new year, but since the Coalition doesn't like the ETS and Abbott has ruled out a carbon tax, that leaves...what, exactly? Here's what Ted Gayer of the Brooking Institution recently told the US Congress about the various options for cutting emissions:

Either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program will result in substantially lower economic costs than command-and-control regulations that mandate technologies, fuels, or energy efficiency standards.

So early in the new year we could find ourselves in the unusual position of a centre-left party proposing a market-based solution to climate change, and the centre-right opting for command-and-control.