We still don’t get this climate change thing do we? The mismatch between what we urgently need to do to avert catastrophic climate change and political and individual timidity is summed up well in this post by blogger No Right Turn –
“We should be trying to raise petrol prices, not lower them
Today the IPCC released a devastating report showing that we have only a decade or less to deal with climate change, and that we need to cut emissions to zero by 2050 if we want to avoid catastrophe. Meanwhile, at the PM’s post-cabinet press conference this afternoon, the focus was firmly on… petrol prices. Apparently they’re too high, so our political establishment wants to lower them. Labour wants to take it out of the petrol companies’ end, by cutting their margins.
National meanwhile wants to take it out on us, by cutting fuel taxes (which means less money to pay for roads and crash victims. So National wants us either to not have those things, or they believe there is a magic money tree they can use to pay for them). But by focusing on cutting prices, both are effectively saying they want to increase the use of petrol, increase emissions, and increase global temperatures. Or to put it another way: both parties want to destroy the world.
From a climate change perspective, high petrol prices are good, insofar as they discourage inefficient transport use, push people to alternatives, and reduce emissions (and past evidence is that they do). So rather than trying to lower petrol prices, a government which actually cared about climate change would be welcome this – and be planning to make them higher.
Obviously, this has social impacts, so they’d need policies to deal with that: cheaper and more efficient public transport, low-cost loans to get people into more efficient cars, subsidies for certain users utterly reliant on vehicles. Obviously, it would be better if they had planned to put those policies in place beforehand, rather than being hit by a sudden market shift. But in general, they should treat high prices as what they are: a market signal to burn less petrol, and stop destroying the world.”
Brian Fallow in the NZ Herald takes up the call for higher fuel prices –
“So why not give drivers a break?
Because fuel prices are too low, not too high.
This week we also received the latest, sobering report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), spelling out the adverse impacts we can expect from even another half a degree of global warming beyond the 1C we have generated already.
In terms of the ferocity of storms, the severity of droughts and floods, wildfires and relentless sea level rise, we ain’t seen nothing yet.
And on our current trajectory we will zoom past 1.5C and the Paris Agreement’s goal of 2C to something like 3C.
The IPCC’s predictions are based on careful appraisal of more than 6000 pieces of peer-reviewed research. Quality control on its report was provided by more than 1000 expert reviewers. They are not making this stuff up.
In light of that, even if the Government were minded to cut taxes — and Finance Minister Grant Robertson was the very picture of fiscal caution on Tuesday — fuel taxes are the last ones they should choose.
Consumers of petrol and diesel, and other fossil fuels, need to get used to the idea that the price of these things will have to keep on rising to the point where we no longer consume any.
The only question is how long it takes for commerce and government between them to deliver the alternatives we need for that to be feasible, and how much planetary damage is inflicted in the meantime.”