Carbon tax

I had to ring our local ABC radio station this morning and add my comment about the proposed carbon tax. They were asking whether or not listeners were still willing to support a price on carbon even if it meant paying more. I am in no doubt.

It all depends on what our priorities are. There is heaps of media coverage about increasing energy bills and the strain on household budgets. There are frequent reports about people struggling with increased energy bills. But when something is important enough to us, we seem to be able to afford it. Look at how quickly we have taken up communication and entertainment technology.

I haven’t seen many media stories about how household budgets are straining because we now need mobiles (maybe even two or three), iPods, broadband, plasma TVs and game consols. Cathy and I used to have just one landline and a dialup internet. We now have two mobiles, a landline and broadband all of which costs us around $150-$200 every month. We are willing to pay this because of the associated benefits.

I wonder how much the average household’s energy use has increased over the last 20 years with all the electronic gadgets we seem to need. Many houses now have huge TVs (and a few smaller ones in other rooms), more than one fridge, air conditioners, downlighting and heaps of other electronic equipment – surely our energy use has skyrocketed.

Cathy and I have been working hard to reduce our energy use and were are now averaging around 7kWh/day (the average household uses closer to 19kWh/day). One thing we recently did was to replace  our old incandescent downlights (60 watts each) with compact fluro ones (15 watts each). As we replaced 20 downlights, this is quite a big reduction in energy use. (I must say that when we did some renovations about six years ago we were told by a lighting shop and an electrician that down lights are energy-efficient. It is scary that the people who should know give such incorrect information.)

I heard Tony Abbott complain today that the carbon tax was going to increase power bills by $300 a year. Let’s keep it in perspective – that’s less than the cost of two coffees a week. Am I willing to pay more to address climate change? You bet. I would much prefer to suffer a bit of financial and economic pain now than to force future generations to pay the cost of our inaction.

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
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