Parallels between Australia, Assembly AB 32 revolt are obvious

by Chris Reed | July 18, 2014 9:00 am

AB-32One of the most universal findings in the social sciences has been the uniform way that humans at all stages of history have been for something that they think reflects well on them until they perceive that it costs them a dime.

This axiom is playing out right now[1] in Australia, where the government has repealed a carbon tax adopted in 2012 when another regime was in power. Here’s some analysis from the liberal Vox site:

The repeal is a big blow for climate policy. Economists have long argued that carbon pricing is one of the most effective ways to tackle global warming. The premise is simple: People should pay for the damage they cause by emitting carbon. And making fossil fuels more expensive will spur companies to seek out cleaner alternatives.

But the major weakness of a price on carbon has always been politics. So many daily activities depend on fossil fuels — from driving to home heating to industry — and the pinch from any tax is likely to be more noticeable than, say, that from more complex regulations. …

And so Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party made repeal of the carbon tax a major issue in the run-up to the 2013 elections. Abbott argued that the tax was costing the Australian economy some $9 billion per year and had little climate benefit so long as other countries weren’t also enacting their own carbon taxes.

Hilarious that Vox labels concern about how much something costs a “politics” problem.  But still.

Same populism in Melbourne and Fresno

Now of course AB 32 isn’t the same thing as a carbon tax, but both California’s and Australia’s initiatives build on the idea that families and businesses should pay more for energy that isn’t renewable. Subtext: Fossil fuels are evil.

But when believing in this truth began to have a price-tag — and especially when it seemed pointless, because most of the world wasn’t into symbolic masochism — Aussie voters bailed.

And in California, so did 16 Assembly Democrats.

Assembly Bill 69 by Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, would delay for three years [an AB 32] rule requiring the energy industry to purchase permits for transportation fuels. Lawmakers and critics have been warning for months about a resulting price bump. …

In a show of broad discontent, 16 Democrats last week sent a letter to the Air Resources Board urging the air quality regulator to delay implementing the new rule. …

Perea said he still supports AB 32’s overarching goal of reducing emissions but does not believe consumers have been adequately prepared.

That’s from the Sac Bee earlier this month[2].

Notice the parallel between Perea’s double-talk and Vox’s? The liberal website likens concern about higher costs of energy to playing “politics” with the issue. Perea suggests the public won’t mind paying more for energy — so long as it’s “prepared” for the pain.

Somehow, I don’t think the Fresno pol actually believes that.

  1. right now:
  2. earlier this month:

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