When one of the worlds largest producers of coal calls for a direct tax on carbon, you know the debate over the reality of climate change is over.
BHP CEO, Marius Kloppers, has just reshaped the climate change debate by urging the Australian government to “go it alone” and introduce a carbon tax sooner rather than later:
“THE world’s biggest mining company has urged Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to act on climate change ahead of other countries, warning that Australia’s economy will suffer unless it looks to a future beyond coal. In a dramatic intervention into the stalled climate debate, BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers yesterday called for ”a clear price signal” on carbon dioxide emissions, possibly including both a carbon tax and a limited carbon trading scheme covering power plants.
Importantly, Klopper calls for a direct tax, not a complicated emission trading scheme.
I tend to agree, believing a direct tax on carbon would be more effective as it would provide the market with the right “price signal” about the true cost of CO2.
To my mind such an approach is similar to that used for tobacco: as a product it is heavily taxed to both reflect the cost in additional health care services (all those smokers contracting cancer and other diseases are a heavy burden on the public health system) as well as discouraging the habit.
A tax on carbon would help break the “carbon habit”, much in the same way taxes on cigarettes encourage others to give up the “nicotine habit” because the a packet of smokes are “Just so damn expensive”.
I also think such a tax could be sold to the public with cuts to the personal income taxes.
The failed ETS was just too complicated and hard a package to sell.
A carbon tax would also be less expensive to administer, be less susceptible to exploitation and mirrors already existing taxes such as those on nicotine, fuel and consumption (Australia’s GST).
Kloppers voiced similar opinions in yesterday’s speech:
“Mr Kloppers said Australia, heavily reliant on coal for energy and export income, would need to look at other power generation solutions to avoid disproportionate penalties when there was eventually a global price on carbon.
“With about 90 per cent of the carbon emissions from our electricity sector coming from coal-fired power stations, Australia will need to look beyond just coal towards the full spectrum of available energy solutions,” he said.
But he warned against backing specific alternative energy solutions, saying the revenue from a carbon tax should not be used by government to pick “winning technologies”.
Mr Kloppers said funds raised from a carbon tax should be treated as revenue neutral and not be considered a windfall by government. He said those funds could be best returned to society through cutting taxes or giving lump-sum grants to those individuals heavily disadvantaged by the tax.
Putting a price on carbon would encourage investment in alternative sources of energy.
Klopper’s views are reasonably close to mine. Personally I’d like to see some government support for renewable energy. But that is a debate well worth having – time to move on from the silliness of debating the science.
BHP is a company taking the long view. Indeed I’ve known people who’ve worked at BHP and I know that they take risk very seriously.
From what I can tell, BHP have made an assessment and concluded failing to act on climate change and placing a price on carbon will hurt their bottom line. In their estimation it will hurt the Australian economy.
I’m not sure it could be spelt out any clearer, but here you go deniers:
Failing to act on climate change is a risk to our economy, life style and well being. BHP agrees.
So Prime Minister Gillard, what are we waiting for?
BHP breaks the back of the denial movement
Who would have thought that a coal mining executive could become a hero to the environmental movement?
According to Kloppers we should be “looking beyond coal“.
Not doing so will hurt Australia’s economy and make us less competitive according to BHP’s CEO:
“…Mr Kloppers stressed the need for a clear price signal on carbon emissions and recommended a combination of a carbon tax, land use actions and a limited emissions trading system, which could apply to electricity generators. He said Australia’s energy production was particularly carbon intensive and the highest among OECD countries in terms of tonnes of carbon emitted per unit of energy. Coal-fired power stations account for almost half of the country’s emissions.
”Australia will need to look beyond just coal towards the full spectrum of available energy solutions,” he said…”
Exactly the thing activists and those supporting action on climate change have been saying for years.
Not only does Klopper reshape the debate about pricing carbon, he has effectively broken the back of the denial movement.
When one of the world’s largest producers of coal suggests a tax on carbon, you know the debate has really moved past denial.
If climate change was a “scam” and a simple revenue grab by governments, socialists, scientists and/or the New World Order then BHP would be among the first to line up and deny climate change. That they suggest we tax carbon signals just how mature and forward looking they are as a company.
Personally, I’m delighted: we should applaud Kloppers remarks.
Yes, mining and the resources sector will have a future. All that is being asked is the business take into account the impact their products have on the environment. The CEO of BHP has just said as much.
Do the deniers really think adding BHP to the ranks of scientists, governments and environmentalists supposedly behind this “scam” makes them sound rationale?
“See! Even the miners are in on it!”
Now, even by their standards that’s just plain crazy.
The list of those denying climate change is growing shorter by the day.
While many activists seem discouraged, I’d argue the opposite.
It may not be apparent, but the denial movement’s is fragmenting and falling apart.
Kloppers has just delivered a serious body blow to the denial movement by publicly abandoning their cause.
BHP, “The Big Environmentalist”?
Who’d of thought that!