When you were young did you send letters to Santa care of the North Pole? Do your children? Your grandchildren? Grand old tradition isn’t it, a bit of our cultural history, but it is going to be hard to keep it going more than a few years. “How can Santa live at the North Pole when there is no ice there in the Summer? He would drown.” Heading that way inexorably and fast. About to break another record for least Summer ice, even lower than 2007, down and down it goes. An alien watching from one of those new planets we keep discovering would be stunned that a massive ice cap could be disappearing in a few decades, might wipe the lens of his telescope thinking there was something mucky on it.
This is crazy stuff. We have been behaving like a bunch of workmen holding spades. “Wanna start Fred?” “After you Tom” “Nah, Bob first” “I’m not starting until Jim does” and so on. Eventually Charlie sighs, leans forward and digs the first spadeful of dirt out. “Oh, that’s how you do it” “Well, if he’s digging I’ll join in” “Ok, many hands make light work”. That’s really what putting a price on carbon in Australia is about – one small spadeful for a man, one giant leap for mankind. And it is a small step, couldn’t be smaller. Painless too. A few big companies will pay a price on the CO2 they produce. Will look for ways to decrease the price they pay and increase their profits – their competitors will be. If they pass on the cost you might have to pay a tiny amount more on some goods – you’ll get more back in compensation. If you reduce your use of high CO2 goods you’ll make even more profit. That’s it. In spite of what you might have heard you won’t be paying “carbon tax”, you will be making money through the various compensation mechanisms, sort of like Santa Claus bringing little presents. No tax. So what that small group of protesters was on about the other day I don’t know, got me beat. Or were they holding signs up saying “No thanks, don’t want money”? “Go away Santa Claus”? Might have missed them.
Look there are people with a vested interest in this. We have to reduce fossil fuel use over the coming years. No question about it. If you are a fossil fuel producer this is certainly not a case of all your christmases coming at once. On the contrary, you don’t have too many christmases left. Time you diversified your business interests. Stop frightening people into thinking they’re going to be taxed. Stop getting Tony Abbott to do your dirty work for you in trying to block this tiny first move – you live on this planet too.
And I bet your grandchildren will want to write to Santa at the North Pole. What are you going to tell them? “Oh that’s just history”? or “Yes, we had to give Santa a bit of a hand there, his feet were getting wet, fixed now though. Have you got an envelope?”