‘When emissions trading comes in, every tonne of carbon dioxide saved by households will simply free up a tonne that can be used by industry. Installing solar hot water systems, driving smaller cars and turning off the lights will not help the environment one bit. The only effect reductions in household energy use will have is to free up pollution permits for the big polluting industries,’ Dr Denniss explained.
“Will not help the environment one bit.” Really? How so?
Once the target is set, the efforts of Australian households to reduce their energy use will only change who does the polluting and the price of the permits, but not the total level of emissions. The only effective way for households to reduce Australia’s overall carbon emissions will be to buy emissions permits and rip them up.
So let me understand this. The only behaviour we could possibly be worried here is environmentally conscious consumers as others don’t currently have an incentive to save. Currently, when those consumers reduce emissions that helps the environment. After the ETS, if they want, consumers could say, consume less electricity, buy emissions permits with the saved money (now more because of the ETS) and tear them up. How exactly is that not better?
The Australia Institute is coming up with some hypothetical scenario that requires environmentally conscious consumers to avoid buying permits. Why should that happen? Indeed, with the ETS, they can buy permits and not actually reduce their consumption. Surely that will increase the supply of environmentally conscious behaviour?