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Winds of change can be costly

There’s got to be a quid to be had in a carbon tax somewhere but blowed if I know where it is.

Wait, that’s it. What blows better than a windmill?

Well, get this. Wind farms will be one of the biggest losers from a carbon tax, exceeded only by – guess what? – solar panels.

Wind and solar are by far the most expensive way of cutting carbon dioxide emissions, a fact unearthed by the Productivity Commission.

Australia’s renewable energy target for 2020, the only global warming policy all sides support, is already pushing up power prices.

A low $9-a-tonne carbon tax would have cut emissions from electricity generation by the same amount at ”a fraction of the existing cost,” the anything but politically correct PC says.

Or for the benefit of the Greens, emissions would have been halved. And there’s nothing green about being inefficient.

The 2020 target is to get greenhouse emissions 5 per cent below where they were in 2000 – wonder if anybody has told those manufacturers of methane, our cows and sheep the bad news – as well as have 20 per cent of power generated by wind, water or sunshine.

Power companies must buy tradeable pollution permits which, thanks to the feds and states treading all over each other, have become practically worthless.

Mind you, that’s not to belittle the 5 per cent target.

It’s a lot more ambitious than it looks, akin to taking every car off the road and cutting half our electricity generation at the same time. So I don’t want to hear you saying it’s inadequate again.

No, the real objection is that the renewable energy push makes it even tougher and will come at a quite unnecessary fall in our standard of living.

Propping up wind farm and solar panel suppliers only produces elevated electricity prices, hurting everybody else, for fairly limited gain.

Especially when you take human nature into account.

As the PC points out, ”when people upgrade to more energy-efficient appliances and vehicles they tend to use them more”.

That’s why it concluded that even going it alone on a carbon tax would still bring benefits.

Since they’re a waste of money – something of a speciality of the Gillard government when it’s not consulting a focus group (and whoever heard of a committee coming up with a good idea?) – we’d do better ditching expensive renewable energy and other carbon-cutting subsidies for a carbon tax quick smart.

It would cost less and do more.

By the same token, the government can’t afford to be too starry-eyed about distributing the largesse.

The thing about a carbon tax is that the more successful it is, the less money it’ll raise because there will be lower pollution.