My response to the letter from Dr. Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Australian Department of Climate Change, is available, along with this note, on my web site.
Thanks to the many people who provided comments on my draft response, including Steve Hatfield-Dodds, a senior official within the Australian Department of Climate Change. I appreciate the willingness of the Australian government to engage in this discussion. I believe that you will find the final letter to be significantly improved over the draft version:
Dr. Martin Parkinson Secretary Department of Climate Change Government of Australia Re: Australia’s Response to Climate Change
Dear Secretary Parkinson:
Thank you for your letter of 6 April, in which you provided reasoning behind the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) announced in your Government’s White Paper1 and the updated plans, with more ambitious reduction targets, announced today.The White Paper is forthright about the “need for action on climate change”, stating:
Carbon pollution is causing the world’s climate to change, resulting in extreme weather, higher temperatures, more droughts, and rising sea levels.
Eleven of the past 12 years rank among the 12 warmest years since records began and Australia had warmer-than-average mean annual temperatures for 16 of the past 18 years.
As one of the hottest and driest continents on earth, Australia will be one of the nations hit hardest and fastest by climate change if we don’t act now.
This kind of straight talk is admirable, as is the statement in your 6 April letter that “We strongly agree with you that climate change requires urgent and significant changes in human activity.”
I am also encouraged by the policy proposed in the White Paper to return 100 percent of revenue from permit auctions to Australian households and businesses. Unless the tax is fully returned to the public, in a transparent fashion, they will almost certainly not consent to having the carbon fee rise to the needed level.
However, I note that your plan is still based on the disastrously ineffectual cap-and-trade approach. Below I point out principal flaws in this approach based on empirical evidence. I hope you will reconsider your plan – such an ineffectual cap-and-trade approach would waste another decade at a time when the threat of passing climate tipping points makes it unconscionable to waste another year...