28 April 2010 – From Business Spectator – It may take until the next election to judge if the decision to abandon attempts to forge a sensible climate policy and a carbon price for another three years is sound politics.

But two things should already be abundantly clear: it’s not good for the environment and it’s very bad for business.

Exactly what’s at stake for the business community was made clear earlier this year by US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the co-sponsor of a now stalled bipartisan attempt to forge consensus on climate policy in Congress: “Six months ago my biggest worry was that an emissions deal would make American business less competitive compared to China,” he said in a now often quoted remark. “Now my concern is that every day that we delay trying to find a price for carbon is a day that China uses to dominate the green economy.”

There’s no reason to suppose it’s any different for Australian business. A survey produced by the UN Environment Program and the think-tank AccountAbility last week estimated the low carbon economy was likely to generate revenues of several trillion dollars by 2020, and any country wanting a share of that market would need to develop the appropriate policy settings.

The survey found that nearly half of the 95 countries that make up 97 per cent of global economic activity had actually strengthened their climate change and clean energy policies despite the failure of Copenhagen. Chief among these were China, of course, along with South Korea, Japan and a host of European nations.
But, it noted, in North America and Australia, “there is a telling mismatch between citizen concerns and price signals, and divergent views within the business community and in politics.”

Little wonder, then, that in compiling a list of the top ten green giants in the global economy, the US-based website Greentech Media earlier nominated the Chinese Communist Party in number one position.

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