With Tony Abbott and the Liberals moving away from having a carbon price and towards seemingly heavy-handed regulation, today’s piece by Tim Harford is a welcome reminder of the dangers of that (echoing something I wrote a few months ago).
Other less-than-obvious truths are: that pork and chicken have substantially lower carbon footprints than beef and lamb (yes, even organic beef and lamb); that milk and cheese also have a substantial footprint; that dishwashers are typically more efficient than washing dishes by hand; and that eco-friendly washing powders may be distinctly eco-unfriendly because they tend to tempt people to use hotter washes.
This leads to the conclusion that a price will sort out the truth.
That is why a broad-based, credible carbon price will be the foundation of any successful policy on climate change. The price would affect the cost of every decision we make; it would take away the guesswork. Current carbon pricing schemes, such as the European emissions trading scheme, are a good start, but they leave out too many sectors, and permits are too cheap.
So Abbott will face the obvious situation of going for populist conceptions of what might reduce emissions and then will face scrutiny on each and every one of them. This is the danger where common sense is not likely to be sensible.
As for my view, in washing dishes, we both wash them by hand and then put them in the dishwasher just to be on the safe side.