Brendan Nelson seeks to gain appeal by abandoning all principle. He has now reverted to the Howard position of not endorsing controls on carbon emissions before other large polluting countries (China, India, Russia) do so. Nelson warns of economic peril in ‘going ahead of the pack’. Nelson's warning is simply opportunism.
As the Garnaut Review suggested the climate change issue is ‘diabolical’. We don’t need to act on warming problems today - we can apparently delay until tomorrow so there are endless procrastination probabilities. In addition we need international co-operation, there is much uncertainty etc etc. It is just all too hard!
But the bottom line is that the probable costs of not taking action are huge and the costs of taking action are relatively low. The costs of constantly postponing are accumulating and this is making decisive actions more difficult and expensive.
The issue of carbon leakages has probably been exaggerated and leakage effects can be dealt with anyway by applying destination accounting in taxing carbon. This means exempting exported energy intensive outputs and placing tariffs on imports from countries that do not price carbon emissions correctly.
Update 1: It seems Penny Wong, the Australian Worker's Union and Labor's Michael Costa are all backpedalling on Garnaut's proposed 2010 startup date for carbon trading. It is a pathetic display and an indictment of that miserable branch of humanity comprising Australian politicians.
Update 2: Nelson continues to dig himself a deeper hole. He rejects the position of the Shadow Treasurer Malcolm Turnbull that Liberal Policy is for emissions trading to begin unconditionally in 2012.