2011-06-10 18:18:15Contacting Australian politicians
James Wight


The Australian government is planning to introduce a carbon tax which will turn into an ETS after a few years. As we are now into the crucial weeks of the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee negotiations over the design of the policy, I thought it would be a good idea to contact Australian politicians with my opinions. Below I have posted an email I sent to every federal MP and Senator. I thought some of my fellow Australians on this forum might also like to contact them. (Don’t plagiarise my email as that would be obvious orchestration, but I thought you might like to consider my opinions.)

Dear [Title],

I am a young voter who is concerned about climate change. I’m associated with the climate blog www.skepticalscience.com, a valuable resource rebutting the arguments of global warming contrarians, but in this email I speak only for myself. I outline my personal opinions on carbon pricing, based on scientific evidence.

The atmospheric level of CO2 must be returned to 350 ppm to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Because of the long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere, to reduce its concentration humanity must stop emitting so carbon sinks can start absorbing. Every year the world delays, CO2 rises by another 2 ppm and the 350 goal slips further from our grasp.

Australia should be a leader in climate change mitigation, not a follower. Australia must rapidly transition to a zero-carbon economy as part of a 350 ppm global mitigation effort. The Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan made a convincing case that Australia can create a 100% renewable energy economy in just ten years, by rapidly scaling up concentrated solar power technology.

A carbon price should help to drive the transition to renewables. A badly-designed carbon price may be even worse than no price at all, if it locks in unlimited fossil fuel burning for another decade.

  • A politically realistic carbon price, on its own, will not create the needed investments in renewable energy. It must be as high as possible, rise as fast as possible, and be complemented with other strong, effective renewable energy incentives to make large-scale solar power stations economically attractive. These can be funded by carbon tax revenue, and by cutting the $12 billion of fossil fuel subsidies. The Government could also invest directly in zero-carbon infrastructure.
  • A badly-designed compensation package will decimate the intended price signal. For this reason a principled approach should be used for trade-exposed industries, and there must be no compensation to electricity generators except in the form of structural adjustment assistance.
  • A badly-designed emissions trading scheme will not provide either price certainty or certainty that the intended net emissions outcome will be reached. This can be avoided by retaining the initial tax as a floor price; limiting dubious international “offsets” (hiding Australia’s emissions overseas is not seriously tackling Australia’s contribution to climate change); and handling land use separately to fossil fuels (even if the Earth had as many trees as it did pre-industrially, the carbon cycle would still be completely overwhelmed by fossil fuel emissions).

It is both necessary and possible to rapidly eliminate Australia’s, and eventually humanity’s, CO2 emissions. If it is not currently politically possible, then it must be made so. The climate operates according to the laws of physics, and we cannot compromise with the laws of physics. If we try, we will all inevitably lose.

Yours faithfully,

James Wight

2011-06-12 16:25:58Contact details
James Wight


All the Members’ contact details are here and all the Senators are here. I was unable to find a list for the Senator-elects that will take their seats next month, but I was able to find email addresses for most of them:

2011-06-19 23:23:28Responses mentioning SkS
James Wight


I got this response from former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull:

"I think your blog is excellent and I often refer to it, usually via the app in fact. Well done."

And this from the office of Greens Senator Christine Milne:

"I also want to say a big personal thank you for helping make www.skepticalscience.com the fantastic resource it is. I can’t tell you how many times I have referred people to it as part of my job of handling Christine’s correspondence, and it is the ‘go to’ site for all Greens staff when dealing with genuinely confused people on the issue of climate change.  You have made a really significant contribution to the debate by helping that site exist, thank you – and please feel free to pass this on to your collaborators for the site."