The announcement today that Robert Hill will head the Australian Carbon Trust is a triumph of politics over policy. It speaks more about the government’s desire to wedge the opposition than to actually address the flaw in the CPRS, which will make it impossible for ordinary people to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions.
Under the CPRS, the harder individuals try to reduce emissions in their homes, the more big polluters will be allowed to emit. The Pledge Fund does not effectively address this problem, because in practice it means that concerned individuals will be asked to pay twice to reduce their emissions: once to buy a Prius or install solar panels, and again to ‘pledge’ their energy savings to the Carbon Trust. When compared with the approach the government has taken with polluters, who will be given most of their permits for free, the government’s favouritism towards big business over households is obvious.
There are millions of Australians who want to ‘do their bit’ to tackle climate change, but the Pledge Fund offers no real incentive to do so. A better approach is to ‘cap and slice’, which would reduce the number of pollution permits each year automatically in line with the amount of emissions saved by voluntary actions.
Today’s announcement has been dressed up to make it sound like the government is correcting this flaw in the CPRS, but it falls way short of actually doing so.