John Quiggin has an op ed in the AFR today (not yet online) asking the Coalition to think of the Great Barrier Reef and to pass the CPRS. He points out (correctly) that the Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger from climate change. So what may save it is a global agreement on carbon emissions and you can add that to the list of compelling reasons to get that agreement. But the problem is that it is only a symbolic and not a real factor in whether Australia passes the CPRS now or not.
First of all, the CPRS itself doesn’t target sufficient emissions reduction in the absence of a global agreement. Second, while passing the CPRS would be a good thing for Australia to have done to show some level of commitment, it is not at all clear that it will, by any stretch, lead itself (even in more than a very marginal way) to that agreement and so ’cause’ the saving of the Great Barrier Reef. We see these ad hoc political arguments from climate change scientists and they annoy me. I was surprised to see John taking the same line.
Look the reasons to pass the CPRS are more straightforward. First, we need to get working on implementation so we can ramp up when the time comes. Second, business needs some certainty over what the operation of the scheme is going to look like. Third, it is useful to overcome the political hurdles of compensation. Finally, this will allow us to get cracking on innovation. Saving the Great Barrier Reef — while something we want to do — has little to do with our short-term debate.