The carbon tax is law. This is Gillard Labor’s “historic reform”. Their “dollar float”. According to Treasurer Wayne Swan it is “Labor to the bootstraps”. As soon as the carbon tax was successfully passed through the Senate, Gillard declared that “Today’s vote does mean that we will commence creating our clean energy future”. It’s a lie.
Despite all the rhetorical celebration of our “clean energy future”, just two days after the tax passed Labor leaders were hailing it as a victory, not for solar or wind power, but for the gas industry.
The comments were made in response to The Greens re-declaring their opposition to gas and their call for 100 per cent renewable energy. Gillard’s reply was unambiguous: “There will be a diverse range of energy sources. We believe coal seam gas will be part of the energy mix of the future.” Climate Change Minister Greg Combet echoed her, saying “with the market mechanism, gas is clearly an important fuel source.”
Gas is anything but a clean energy. A damning report on true gas pollution levels in Australia, commissioned by the renewables research group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), has been suppressed.
The company that produced the report, Worley Parsons, is now refusing to hand it over. They are knee-deep in the gas industry, with $580 million contract with gas giant QGC and plans to build two natural gas trains and a gas plant in the Pilbara region.
BZE requested the report in order to compare the entire life cycle emissions from coal seam gas and shale gas with other energy sources. During gas extraction, vast amounts of methane can escape from wells and bores. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, over 70 times worse than carbon dioxide over a twenty year time scale—this “leakage” needs to be accounted for when calculating emissions from gas, but often isn’t.
But Labor is giving this polluting industry green cover and their carbon tax is going to encourage the gas boom going on across the country.
The Greens have backed themselves into a corner by sowing illusions in the carbon tax and the myth that it will assist clean energy (see here). Christine Milne has called the carbon tax legislation a “huge victory” that “gets us ready for historical investments in clean, renewable energy”.
The Greens have not prepared their supporters for the real consequences of the carbon tax.
Alongside this, the tax has created a scepticism of climate action among those who know they’ll be feeling the pinch of increased living costs.
We should take up the Greens call to move towards 100 per cent renewables, but to win this we have to be prepared to tell the truth about the carbon tax.
By Erima Dall