22 August, 2018

Political carbon policy - a lost cause that wastes time we don't have

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Why the NEG suffered the same fate as all other climate policies

Weather patterns are fluctuating everywhere. In Australia alone some regions are currently experiencing their driest months on record, with emergency measures being taken to help tackle a drought crisis. 


However, over 97% of scientific evidence agrees that climate change is a direct result of human induced carbon emissions, with a general consensus that if we can reduce these emissions we can hopefully avert disaster before it’s too late.


In Australia unfortunately, governments have tried and failed to provide a solution for years.


The problem? When it comes to climate policy the political machine is focused more on polarising discussions for political gain, rather than genuinely working in the best interests of the country.


The National Energy Guarantee – A fig leaf policy following a decade of inaction that still couldn’t get through Parliament


The Australian government’s latest in a long string of proposals for a national energy/climate policy was the National Energy Guarantee (the NEG); it was just scrapped.


The NEG was supposed to ensure:


  • Reliability of the Grid
  • Lower prices for consumers
  • Reduced emissions


In reality however, it was actually going to achieve very little. It was simply considered politically palatable. Even so, still we find the NEG resigned to the scrap heap of climate policy, along with the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, Carbon Pricing Mechanism, the Clean Energy Target, and various emissions intensity schemes.


How did this happen? The NEG was not very ambitious, it was designed to placate all sides of the political arena, yet it still failed to pass even its own party room?


The answer is, unfortunately, politics.


Let’s consider how policy is passed in politics these days.


To have the best chance you need the support of the left, right, and green side of the political spectrum. However, when it comes to climate change and reducing carbon emissions these respective sides can’t bring themselves to an agreement and instead simply continue to bicker (an activity they’ve been indulging in for over 10 years, with all parties taking advantage of the debate for their own ends). In an attempt to get majority support concessions are made, targets are watered down, and short-term political gains are held above long-term meaningful national benefit, resulting in a ‘solution’ that is no one side’s preferred policy.


In the end, the policy either inevitably fails, or is so badly tarnished by all the back flipping and concessions that it is vulnerable to political attacks and eventually torn down.


What has happened with the NEG is nothing new; it’s simply the continuation of a decade long climate policy war with no real end in sight.


Sadly, the same problem playing out in Australia is also prevalent globally. Self-interests, political cycles, and lobbying efforts have rendered the political process worldwide ineffective at tackling climate change and carbon emission levels.


Meanwhile, the problem of climate change remains and grows ever more pressing…


What’s the solution?


The best chance of beating the political deadlock is to simply remove it from the equation altogether.


In the past, governments were required to function as stewards of trustworthy carbon pricing systems and enforcers of penalties for noncompliance. However, with today’s technology (powered by the Blockchain) it’s now possible to relieve governments of this task and instead put it back in the hands of consumers and businesses.


emmi plans to do just that, with the proposed emmi platform functioning as a not-for-profit carbon trading and rating system. The carbon price will be set at a social level, and the social interconnectivity of the modern world will provide emmi with the ability to enforce a limit on carbon emissions. Furthermore, by utilising the blockchain, the carbon pricing registry will be trusted, transparent and incorruptible.


As a bonus, emmi recognise that rebating up to 90% of emission permit revenue back to emitters for future emission reduction projects will significantly reduce the cost burden of the carbon price, whilst still enforcing robust carbon emission limits.


Climate change is a growing problem, but together as a society we can all be a part of the solution.


It’s our climate, and ultimately, our responsibility.