Selective quoting and misrepresentation does disservice to the public and climate change debate Media Release

Aug 15, 2011 - 11:51am

The Climate Institute today expressed disappointment that the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and some at The Australian have chosen to misrepresent and selectively quote documents obtained from the Federal Government under FOI on China’s climate change policies.

“The reality is that China now dominates the global clean energy industry. In 2010, China invested a total of $48.9 billion in clean energy – around a quarter of the global total. This has not happened by accident; it has happened because China’s leaders are strategically positioning themselves to take advantage of the global clean energy economy,” Institute CEO, John Connor, said.

“China is also in the process of implementing regional pollution pricing schemes that cover populations far greater than Australia’s. They plan a full national pollution pricing scheme by 2015.

Research by the Productivity Commission and Vivid Economics for The Climate Institute demonstrates that, far from going it alone, our major trading partners are already making polluters responsible for their emissions, directly or indirectly, and driving investment in clean energy.

“The report in The Australian today which suggests that the methodology used to calculate the implied carbon pollution price in China is flawed is based on the selective use of information and misrepresents the issues at hand.

“The ground-breaking report by Vivid Economics on the direct and indirect pollution pricing in major economies was reviewed by a dozen experts in the field of energy policy and economics. The report was an independent analysis and, as an independent piece of work, was not subject to sign off by the Federal Government.

“The IPA has access to all the documents that show estimates for China’s pollution price changed through time as the analysis went through three separate and rigorous expert review processes. The final price arrived at for China was substantially lower than original estimates suggested.

“In fact, some non-Departmental expert feedback received during the review process argued that Vivid Economics had under-stated efforts by China because their approach did not include policies operating by government fiat (such policies to encourage hydro-electric and nuclear power for example) or China’s national renewable energy targets.

“The Australian also suggests the numbers used in the report for China are inconsistent with others in the report, for example the pollution pricing scheme that currently exists in NSW.

“The approaches used to compare the China’s policy to shut down high polluting power stations and the NSW pollution pricing scheme are entirely consistent. The Climate Institute outlined this to The Australian a number of times and stands by the methodological approach used by Vivid Economics.”

A number of approaches are possible in comparing the actions of different countries and The Climate Institute has published a separate paper from Vivid Economics addressing these issues. The Vivid Economics approach asked, “What has been the average cost imposed on electricity generators from policy?” In many situations, these will also proxy the price increases imposed on businesses and households. This remains an important policy question.

A copy of the full correspondence with The Australian is available on request. The Australian has also, on a number of occasions, refused to respond to requests by Vivid Economics and The Climate Institute to publish responses to articles it has published that have misrepresented Vivid Economics’ ground-breaking analysis.

“The Climate Institute is more than happy to engage in public debate based on evidence and robust analysis and we invite the IPA and the media in general to do the same.

“Analyses by the Productivity Commission and Vivid Economics show that our major trading partners are acting to reduce their economic dependence on pollution; this big picture message remains, whatever view one takes on the methodological debates.

“In the context of the reality that other countries are acting, Australia’s pollution price needs to be set by an unrelenting focus on the national interest and on what we are actually trying to achieve: pollution reduction and the unlocking of Australia’s world-class clean energy resources,” Mr Connor said.

For further information:
Erwin Jackson | Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute | 03 9600 4039

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