[reprinted from August 2009]

In a previous article, I touched on an issue about which the Coalition in Australia has coalesced, namely taking a wait and see attitude to Climate Change, based on what comes out of the USA. I got to thinking about this issue further this morning when I watching on ABC Breakfast the speculation about whether or not Nathan Rees may see a coup in the near future. A name of a woman was dropped as someone up and coming in the Labor Party, and then quickly dismissed by the ABC commentators as still having a US accent, so unlikely to be acceptable. This was accepted without dispute by all those she was engaged in conversation with, and included no discussions of the substance of any positions held by the woman. And I got to thinking, hell that’s stupid, but its probably right, even I wouldn’t trust me on first impressions, given my accent. And it dawned on me that there is a third issue why the Coalition position on the CPRS is a loser, even amongst the Nationals.

Basically, why would we as Australians accept that anything the USA would produce programatically would be good for Australia? Do they have a history of doing things in Australia’s interest, particularly when it may be in conflict with their own self interest? On tariffs, subsidies and any number of other trade issues, nope. In my 15 years an Australian citizen alone, I have see the US dump steel, wheat, and other commodities into world markets and significantly damage Australia industries at the time. Hell, W even signed into law a major subsidy for their steel industry right after the Australians were the first to commit troops to an Afghanistan effort – BEFORE EVEN BEING ASKED TO DO SO! This is also the mob that tried to come gut our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in their last round of  trade negotiations with Australia. Hey, far be it from me to be a US basher, but there’s no way I trust these arseholes with defining my CPRS.

Remember also that the US is likely to produce nothing in the next sitting session of their Congress. They are currently heavily distracted with health care, and whether to require all their citizens to get health insurance coverage through the same private health companies that have been ripping them off, denying them treatment, and putting the US in a position where it pays twice as much as the next major industrialised country for health care per capita, but is raked by the UN 37th in health care performance (proudly next to Costa Rica). Of course their Congress and President could pass a strong government run public option for health care and demand that pharmaceutical companies negotiate on price with a large public entity, but let’s face it the Democrats are in power there, and they are likely to be too big of pussies to move anything like that through, despite their filibuster-proof majorities. So don’t even expect the US to even get to the climate change issue, and get a bill through both houses and signed into law. Remember, they are several years behind us in the legislative effort, and even we haven’t got our well discussed and heavily negotiated CPRS through yet. If we wait for the Yanks it will be another lost opportunity, and by the time we get around to it, we will be selling summer timeshares in the Antarctic.

Finally (and potentially most importantly), what are we, f**king sheep? We have to wait around for the Yanks to move on this because they are smarter than us? or more determined to make a difference? or perhaps maybe more morally and ethically prone to leadership than we as Australians are? Sure they represent the bulk of the problem on an emissions basis, and if they, China and India don’t make some moves, it will make stuff-all difference what we as Australians do.

But the fact is, we are smart enough, we do know how to develop and run a CPRS trading scheme that will set a real market for carbon emissions, and begin to internalise the cost of those emissions. And the country I embraced the culture of when I signed up is also brave enough to show some leadership and ignore the lies and doomsayers about the new economy. Sean shared a interesting article from the ACF that exposes some corporate lies in relation to the NGERS/CPRS reporting in relation to what those same companies are telling their shareholders. It’s a worthwhile read for investors as well as those interested in the CPRS.