It used to be that citizens would look to governments to develop plans for the long term.
But on the issue of climate change the world has entered a bizarre parallel universe where it is the private sector – specifically major multinational corporations – that is leading the way.
Some of the world’s biggest energy companies are proving to be streets ahead of most governments when it comes to preparing for what they see as the inevitable need to do something about carbon dioxide emissions.
In a development that sits very uncomfortably with the second-rate thinking of tub-thumpers like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt, and the craven and populist agendas of politicians like Tony Abbott, major corporations including Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell are developing their operations in the expectation of some form of carbon tax at either an international, regional or national level.
An illuminating article in the December 14 edition of The Economist reported that many major multinational firms have adopted “internal carbon prices” – attaching a cost to emissions of carbon dioxide produced in their operations – to help them prepare for what they see the inevitability of a national and international carbon pricing regimes.
This is not limited to small, green-hued firms operating at the fringes of the global economy: massive operators including Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell, Total, Google, Disney, ConocoPhillips and Microsoft have all adopted internal carbon prices.
And they are not being Mickey Mouse in the prices they are setting. Exxon Mobil has put its internal carbon price at $US60 a tonne, BP and Shell at $US40, while Google has their’s at around $US12 a tonne and Microsoft $US6 to 7 a tonne.
For these firms, the price signal serves two purposes. It helps them quantify their risk, and spurs them to develop ways to mitigate that risk by reducing, or at least slowing the growth of, CO2 emissions.
The adoption of a carbon price by the Labor Government was essentially serving the same purpose – preparing the country to be competitive and ahead of the game when carbon pricing regimes begin to operate internationally or in trade between major regions.
Instead, by dumping what had been set up, the Abbott Government is condemning Australia to once again be trying to catch up as the world moves on, to be a policy taker, rather than policy maker.
Thanks Tony, thanks Andrew.