First published in Crikey, 18 July 2011
by David Spratt
Can you sell people an answer, when they’re not sure of the question?
The carbon tax TV campaign confirms the government’s strategy of framing the case largely in economic terms: a "clean energy future" for investment and jobs and innovation, building Australia for the 21st century. Long gone are the days of the "great moral challenge" of our time.
The "Say yes" campaign by civil society groups exhibits the same economism: "Saying yes to a price on pollution means saying yes to investment, innovation, and new jobs based on renewable energy ... Putting a price on pollution will ... protect jobs, drive innovation in adaptation and clean energy projects and technologies ..."
The problem is that barely half the population believes climate change is real and human caused; fewer support the tax. And much of that opinion is soft: it’s one of many concerns.
10 July 2011
Check out: Carbon tax at a glance on Crikey
It is a historic step forward for Australia to be finally taking action to price carbon. The time for talking is over as the damaging impacts of global warming become ever more apparent. By acting to reduce emissions, the politics of delay and denial will become a historic relic.
The very existence of the legislation is due to the constant pressure and untiring work of thousands of individuals and groups in the climate movement across Australia. These people have kept the issue of climate change -- the greatest threat yet to our species -- alive in the face of powerful vested interests who deny both the science of climate change and the case for action. This is a very significant victory for Australian civil society.
However the long delay in acting makes our challenge today bigger and more urgent than ever. The aspirations of the carbon pricing scheme are low in comparison with what the science community tells us we need to do to avoid great damage to Australia's economy, our environment, and the way we live.