Reality check

A dirty not-so-secret: coal industry expects to boom under Labor's "carbon tax".

There’s been so much political spin around the Gillard government’s carbon tax announcement. Of course, there’s the predictable hysterical hollering from the Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce and the climate change denialists’ camp but there is also tons of bullshit from the Gillard Labor government.

However, a couple of developments have provided a much-needed reality check.

On July 12, the ABC News reported:

“Coal mining giant Peabody Energy has teamed with steelmaker ArcelorMittal to launch a $4.7 billion bid for Australian miner Macarthur Coal.”

This was the biggest-ever bid for a coal mining company in Australia and the bid was well above market expectations.

Peabody’s bid made nonsense of the opposition’s shrill warning’s that Gillard’s announced “carbon tax” (which will morph into a carbon pollution trading scheme) spelt the end of Australia’s massive and growing coal industry.

Gillard’s spin merchants were quick to crow about the Peabody bid but all it really proved was that Gillard’s carbon tax was not a genuine or serious atttempt to address the climate change emergency. The coal mining boom will continue (coal production will rise 109-150% by 2050, according to the government’s modelling of its “carbon tax” impact) and there will be no serious imvestment – public or private – into the needed radical transition to a 100% renewable energy-based economy (gas-fired electricity generation is projected to increase by over 200% by 2050).

Chart from Chapter 5 of "Modelling A Carbon Price".

Gas-fired electricity generation is projected to increase over 200% by 2050

And if more proof of the fakery of Gillard Labor’s scheme, there was this other telling news report. Peter Martin wrote in the July 14 Sydney Morning Herald:

“If Australia’s economists had the vote, Julia Gillard’s carbon tax would win a landslide.

“A survey of 145 delegates attending the Australian Conference of Economists in Canberra finds 59 per cent think the tax is ‘good economic policy’…”

These economists were overwhelmingly economic rationalists – true believers in the corporate profits-first orthodoxy that has hegemonised that profession since the 1970s. What they see as “good economic policy” is good for big business profits and not for our common good or good for the environment.

Unfortunately, some very influential voices in the Australian environment movement have jumped on the Gillard Labor carbon tax bandwagon and regurgitated (or at least endorsed through lack of criticism) the deceitful spin Gillard’s salespeople have been generating.

What brought these people – who know or should know better – to go along with the government’s spin? Was it desperation to win some sort of “mainstream” hearing? Was it political expediency? Or was it lowered expectations of how much change is possible?

It was probably a combination of all these.

The movement for action on global climate change has grown rapidly but it has a serious weakness. Many in the movement don’t understand or refuse to acknowledge the fact that we leave in a society dominated by powerful corporations, which are objectively by their need to put profits above everything else.  It actually doesn’t matter what this or that corporate CEO thinks about climate change. It doesn’t matter whether some corporations have pretensions to practice a greener capitalism, they are all locked in a battle for which company makes the biggest profit.

This is the death dance that grips the global economy. Any measures that really address the climate change crisis will must make serious inroads to corporate profitability. There are no win-win solutions. That’s a foolish fantasy the world really cannot afford.

The truth will out, if painfully. Green Left Weekly has refused to go along with the cheer squad for Gillard’s climate change scam. We’ve refused to be bullied into the “groupthink” that has pretty much paralysed the environment movement from speaking the truth on this matter over the last two years.

Green Left Weekly is committed to the truth and to advocating the radical climate change response that the science demands.

If you support our approach then now is a good time to give generously to our Fighting Fund.

Donate online today. Or direct deposits can be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992. Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or phone in a donation through on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).

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